Power Failures Hit Millions in India

NEW DELHI — About 600 million people lost power in India on Tuesday when the country’s northern and eastern electricity grids failed, crippling the country for a second consecutive day.

The outage stopped hundreds of trains in their tracks, darkened traffic lights, shuttered the Delhi Metro and left nearly everyone — the police, water utilities, private businesses and citizens — without electricity. About half of India’s population of 1.2 billion people was without power. India’s unofficial power grid, a huge number of backup diesel generators and other private power sources, kept hospitals electrified and major airports running.

Manoranjan Kumar, an economic adviser with the Ministry of Power, said in a telephone interview that the grids had failed and that the ministry was working to figure out the source of the problem. The northern and eastern grids cover 11 states and the capital city of Delhi, stretching from India’s northern tip in Kashmir to Rajasthan to West Bengal’s capital of Kolkata.

The failure happened without warning just after 1 p.m., electric company officials said.

“We seem to have plunged into another power failure, and the reasons why are not at all clear,” said Gopal K. Saxena, the chief executive of BSES, an electric company that services South Delhi, in a telephone interview. It may take a long time to restore power to north India, he said, because the eastern grid has also failed, and alternate power sources in Bhutan and the Indian state of Sikkim flow into the east first.

About two hours after the grid failure, power ministry authorities said some alternate arrangements had been made. “We are taking hydro power from Bhakhra Nangal Dam,” in northern India, said Sushil Kumar Shinde, the power minister, in a televised interview.

India has struggled to generate enough power of its own to fuel businesses and light homes, and the country relies on huge imports of coal and oil to power its own plants. But supply and demand may not explain away this week’s grid failures, power executives said.

The failure on Tuesday affected roughly twice as many people as the massive power outage the previous day, when the northern power grid failed and left more than 300 million people without power for several hours. No official reason for the Monday’s failure has been given, although some local news reports pointed fingers at state governments which were overdrawing power.

That assessment is too simplistic, Mr. Saxena, of BSES, said. There are controls in place on India’s electricity grids that override an outsized power demand. “We have one of the most robust, smart grids operating” in the world, he said. It would “not be wise” to give an assessment of what happened at this time, he added.

Institutions without a private backup system were shuttered. All trains stopped in the Delhi Metro, which carries nearly 2 million passengers a day. Trains were pulled to the closest stations using battery back up, and then evacuated, a spokeswoman for the Delhi Metro said, and the stations have been locked. “We had never anticipated such a thing,” the spokeswoman said.

A trade body, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, or Assocham, said that Monday’s power problem “totally disturbed the normal life and has severely impacted the economic activities.”

“While on the one hand it is pity that over 26,000 megawatts of power stations are idle due to the nonavailability of coal, on the other one grid failure has brought the system collapsed,” said the group’s secretary general D.S. Rawat, noting that “the entire power situation at present is headed for disaster.”

Niharika Mandhana and Hari Kumar contributed to this story from New Delhi.




On This Day: July 31

Updated July 30, 2012, 2:28 pm

NYT Front Page

On July 31, 1964, the American space probe Ranger 7 transmitted pictures of the moon’s surface.

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On July 31, 1919, Primo Levi, the Italian writer and chemist whose work was influenced by his captivity at Auschwitz, was born. Following his death on April 11, 1987, his obituary appeared in The Times.

Go to obituary » | Other birthdays »


On This Date

By The Associated Press

1777 The Marquis de Lafayette, a 19-year-old French nobleman, was made a major-general in the American Continental Army.
1875 Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States, died in Carter Station, Tenn., at age 66.
1914 The New York Stock Exchange closed due to the outbreak of World War I. (Trading didn’t resume until December.)
1919 Germany’s Weimar Constitution was adopted.
1972 Democratic vice-presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton withdrew from the ticket with George McGovern following disclosures that Eagleton had once undergone psychiatric treatment.
1977 The “Son of Sam” killer claimed his last victims when he shot and killed Stacy Moskowitz, 20, and seriously wounded her date as they sat in a parked car in Brooklyn, N.Y. (David Berkowitz was arrested less than two weeks later. He is serving six sentences of 25 years to life.)
1981 A seven-week strike by major league baseball players ended.
1990 Nolan Ryan became the 20th major league pitcher to win 300 games as his Texas Rangers beat the Milwaukee Brewers 11-3.
1995 Walt Disney Co. agreed to acquire Capital Cities-ABC Inc. in a $19 billion deal.
2007 The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force for Sudan’s Darfur region.
2008 Scientists reported the Phoenix spacecraft had confirmed the presence of frozen water in Martian soil.
2009 Three American tourists were arrested by Iran on suspicion of espionage during what their families have said was a simple hiking trip along the Iraq-Iran border. (One was released on bail, the others remain in Iranian custody.)

Current Birthdays

By The Associated Press

J.K. Rowling, Author (“Harry Potter” books)

Author J.K. Rowling (“Harry Potter” books) turns 47 years old today.

AP Photo/Joel Ryan

DeMarcus Ware, Football player

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware turns 30 years old today.

AP Photo/Sharon Ellman

1919 Robert Morgenthau, Former Manhattan district attorney, turns 93
1944 Geraldine Chaplin, Actress, turns 68
1945 William Weld, Former Massachusetts governor, turns 67
1951 Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Tennis Hall of Famer, turns 61
1956 Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts, turns 56
1958 Bill Berry, Rock musician (R.E.M.), turns 54
1962 Wesley Snipes, Actor, turns 50
1963 Fatboy Slim, Rock musician, turns 49
1975 Annie Parisse, Actress (“Law and Order”), turns 37
1978 Zac Brown, Country singer, musician, turns 34
1979 B.J. Novak, Actor, writer (“The Office”), turns 33


Historic Birthdays

Primo Levi 7/31/1919 – 4/11/1987 Italian-Jewish writer and chemist.Go to obituary »
59 Augustus 7/31/1526 – 2/12/1586
Elector of Saxony & leader of Protestant Germany
62 George Baxter 7/31/1804 – 1/11/1867
English engraver and printer
79 Jane Currie Hoge 7/31/1811 – 8/26/1890
American welfare worker & fundraiser for the Union
80 Abram Stevens Hewitt 7/31/1822 – 1/18/1903
American industrialist & philanthropist who became mayor of N. Y. C.
76 Henri Brisson 7/31/1835 – 4/11/1912
French statesman who was twice premier of France
77 Richard Dixon Oldham 7/31/1858 – 7/15/1936
English geologist who discovered evidence of the Earth’s Core
99 S. S. Kresge 7/31/1867 – 10/18/1966
American merchant who started a chain of 1,000 variety stores
87 Jacques Villon 7/31/1875 – 6/9/1963
French painter and printmaker & brother of Marcel Duchamp
70 Elmo Roper 7/31/1900 – 4/30/1971
American who developed political forecasting by polls
49 Whitney Young 7/31/1921 – 3/11/1971
American civil rights leader & head of the National Urban League



On This Day: July 30

Updated July 29, 2012, 2:28 pm

NYT Front Page

On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis, which had just delivered key components of the Hiroshima atomic bomb to the Pacific island of Tinian, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Only 316 out of 1,196 men survived the sinking and shark-infested waters.

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On July 30, 1863, Henry Ford, the American automobile manufacturer who founded the Ford Motor Company, was born. Following his death on April 7, 1947, his obituary appeared in The Times.

Go to obituary » | Other birthdays »


On This Date

By The Associated Press

1619 The first representative assembly in America convened in Jamestown, Va.
1729 The city of Baltimore was founded.
1792 The French national anthem, “La Marseillaise” by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, was first sung in Paris.
1863 American automaker Henry Ford was born in Dearborn Township, Mich.
1930 Host Uruguay won soccer’s first World Cup with a 4-2 victory over Argentina in the final in Montevideo.
1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill creating a women’s auxiliary agency in the Navy known as Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES.
1945 The USS Indianapolis, which had just delivered key components of the Hiroshima atomic bomb to the Pacific island of Tinian, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine; 880 men lost their lives.
1966 England won the World Cup when Geoff Hurst scored a hat trick in a 4-2 victory over West Germany at London’s Wembley Stadium.
1971 Apollo 15 astronauts David R. Scott and James B. Irwin landed on the moon.
1975 Former Teamsters union president Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in suburban Detroit. (His remains have never been found.)
2002 Expelled from Congress a week earlier, James A. Traficant Jr. was sentenced to eight years behind bars for corruption.
2008 Ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was extradited to The Hague to face genocide charges after nearly 13 years on the run.

Current Birthdays

By The Associated Press

Hilary Swank, Actress

Actress Hilary Swank turns 38 years old today.

AP Photo/Peter Kramer

Lisa Kudrow, Actress (“Friends”)

Actress Lisa Kudrow (“Friends”) turns 49 years old today

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

1934 Bud Selig, Baseball commissioner, turns 78
1936 Buddy Guy, Blues guitarist, turns 76
1939 Peter Bogdanovich, Director, turns 73
1939 Eleanor Smeal, Feminist activist, turns 73
1941 Paul Anka, Singer, turns 71
1945 David Sanborn, Jazz saxophonist, turns 67
1947 Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, actor, turns 65
1948 Jean Reno, Actor, turns 64
1956 Delta Burke, Actress (“Designing Women”), turns 56
1958 Kate Bush, Rock singer, turns 54
1960 Richard Linklater, Director, turns 52
1961 Laurence Fishburne, Actor, turns 51
1964 Vivica A. Fox, Actress, turns 48
1969 Simon Baker, Actor, turns 43
1970 Christopher Nolan, Director (“Batman” movies), turns 42
1971 Tom Green, Actor, comedian, turns 41
1971 Christine Taylor, Actress, turns 41
1973 Dean Edwards, Actor, comedian, turns 39
1977 Jaime Pressley, Actress, turns 35


Historic Birthdays

Henry Ford 7/30/1863 – 4/7/1947 American industrialist who changed production with his assembly line methods.Go to obituary »
84 Michael Morris Killanin 7/30/1914 – 4/25/1999
Irish author and president of the International Olympic Committee
83 C. Northcote Parkinson 7/30/1909 – 3/9/1993
English historian, author, and formulator of “Parkinson’s Law”
88 Henry Moore 7/30/1898 – 8/31/1986
English sculptor; one of the greatest of the 20th century
85 Casey Stengel 7/30/1890 – 9/29/1975
American professional baseball player and manager
92 Vladimir Zworykin 7/30/1889 – 7/29/1982
Russian-born American inventor and the father of television
74 Robert McCormick 7/30/1880 – 4/1/1955
American newspaper editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune
72 Richard Burdon Haldane 7/30/1856 – 8/19/1928
Scottish lawyer, philosopher, and statesman
30 Emily Bronte 7/30/1818 – 12/19/1848
English novelist and poet; wrote “Wuthering Heights”
62 Giorgio Vasari 7/30/1511 – 6/27/1574
Italian painter, architect, historian and writer



The Dark Knight Rises, 2012

In Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, Bruce-Batman has oscillated between seemingly opposite poles, even as he’s always come out a superhero. He is both savior and destroyer, as well as both human and beast.  The seemingly blunt story of good versus evil is certainly an old, familiar tale that Mr. Nolan, in between juggling the cool bat toys, and hard punches has layered alternately with open and barely veiled references to terrorism, the surveillance state and vengeance as a moral imperative. 

And so, despite the reclusive facade that Mr. Wayne has willingly taken on after taking the fall for a beloved mayor and being in mourning for the woman he loved, he is forced to rise up and go out again to battle the even more graver forces of evil and take an even greater fall.

For the dark knight rises indeed, but he does so very slowly and after much personal catharsis.  As one of the men says to another, “Dial it back, officer.  The situation is unprecedented.”  That is but a mere understatement as we soon find out.

Bale is brilliant in his role and gives as tight a performance as one might imagine.  Orphaned at a young age, this is a beast-man who still checks his scars every so often, and makes every attempt to ensure that his legacy for the poor and orphaned in the city of Gotham is perhaps his greatest legacy. 

The story is not without holes, however, the die-hard fans will tend to gloss over these questions and choose to focus instead on the other stellar elements of the movie:  the themes of sacrifice, selflessness, resilience, deceit, loyalty, and a change of heart for the better when all hope seems to be gone. 

A tip of the hat to Liam Neeson, the masterful teacher, Michael Caine, the affectionate uncle/butler, Marion Cottilard, the new love interest, and Anne Hathaway, the petty thief who thinks she’s a cat.

Thanks for the ride, Bruce/Batman.  You think Robin is up to taking up your mantle?


On This Day: July 29

Updated July 28, 2012, 2:28 pm

NYT Front Page

On July 29, 1981, Britain’s Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

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On July 29, 1905, Dag Hammarskjold, the Nobel Prize-winning Swedish statesman and secretary-general of the United Nations from 1953 to 1961, was born. Following his death on September 18, 1961, his obituary appeared in The Times.

Go to obituary » | Other birthdays »


On This Date

By The Associated Press

1890 Artist Vincent van Gogh died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Auvers, France, at age 37.
1914 Transcontinental telephone service began with the first phone conversation between New York and San Francisco.
1957 Jack Paar debuted as host of NBC’s “Tonight” show.
1958 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
1967 Fire swept the USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin, killing 134 servicemen.
1981 Britain’s Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
1993 The Israeli Supreme Court acquitted retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk of being Nazi death camp guard “Ivan the Terrible” and threw out his death sentence.
1999 A day trader opened fire in two Atlanta brokerage offices, killing nine people and wounding 13 before shooting himself to death; he had earlier killed his wife and two children.
2008 Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, was indicted on seven felony counts of concealing more than a quarter of a million dollars in house renovations and gifts he had received from a powerful oil contractor. (A judge later dismissed the case, saying prosecutors had withheld evidence.)
2008 Army scientist Bruce Ivins commited suicide as prosecutors prepared to indict him in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

Current Birthdays

By The Associated Press

Ken Burns, Documentary filmmaker

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns turns 59 years old today.

AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau

Stephen Dorff, Actor

Actor Stephen Dorff turns 39 years old today.

AP Photo/Evan Agostini

1932 Nancy Kassebaum Baker, Former U.S. senator, R-Kansas, turns 80
1936 Elizabeth Dole, Former U.S. senator, R-N.C., turns 76
1949 Marilyn Quayle, Wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle, turns 63
1953 Tim Gunn, TV personality (“Project Runway”), turns 59
1953 Geddy Lee, Rock singer, musician (Rush), turns 59
1953 Patti Scialfa, Rock singer, musician (The E Street Band), turns 59
1966 Martina McBride, Country singer, turns 46
1972 Wil Wheaton, Actor, turns 40
1977 Danger Mouse, DJ (Gnarls Barkley), turns 35
1980 Rachel Miner, Actress, turns 32


Historic Birthdays

Dag Hammarskjold 7/29/1905 – 9/18/1961 Swedish Nobel Prize-winning 2nd secretary-general of the U. N.Go to obituary »
69 Theda Bara 7/29/1885 – 4/7/1955
American silent-film actress
53 Alexis Tocqueville 7/29/1805 – 4/16/1859
French political scientist, historian, and politician
64 George Pendleton 7/29/1825 – 11/24/1889
American legislator and sponsor of the Pendleton Civil Service Act of 1883
73 Max Nordau 7/29/1849 – 1/23/1923
Hungarian -French physician, writer, and Jewish nationalist
76 Booth Tarkington 7/29/1869 – 5/19/1946
American novelist and dramatist
59 Don Marquis 7/29/1878 – 12/29/1937
American newspaperman, poet, and playwright
61 Benito Mussolini 7/29/1883 – 4/28/1945
Italian prime minister and Hitler’s ally during W.W. II
64 Sigmund Romberg 7/29/1887 – 11/9/1951
Hungarian-born American composer, conductor, and violinist
88 Owen Lattimore 7/29/1900 – 5/31/1989
American writer, lecturer, sinologist; and victim of McCarthyism
60 Clara Bow 7/29/1905 – 9/27/1965
American film actress known as the “it girl”