World Bulletin / News Desk
Half of India's 1.2 billion people were without power on Tuesday as the grids covering a dozen states broke down, the second major blackout in as many days and an embarrassment for the government as it struggles to revive economic growth.
Stretching from Assam, near China, to the Himalayas and the deserts of Rajasthan, the power cut was the worst to hit India in more than a decade.
Trains were stranded in Kolkata and Delhi and thousands of people poured out of the sweltering capital's modern metro system when it ground to a halt at lunchtime. Office buildings switched todiesel generators and traffic jammed the roads.
"We'll have to wait for an hour or hour and a half, but till then we're trying to restore metro, railway and other essential services," Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters.
More than a dozen states with a total population of 670 million people were without power, with the lights out even at major hospitals in Kolkata.
Shinde blamed the system collapse on some states drawing more than their share of electricity from the overstretched grid. Asia's third-largest economy suffers a peak-hour power deficit of about 10 percent, dragging on economic growth.
"This is the second day that something like this has happened. I've given instructions that whoever overdraws power will be punished."
The country's southern and western grids were supplying power to help restore services, officials said.
The problem has been made worse by weak a monsoon in agricultural states such as wheat-beltPunjab and Uttar Pradesh in the Ganges plains, which has a larger population than Brazil. With less rain to irrigate crops, more farmers resort to electric pumps to draw water from wells.
Power shortages and a creaky road and rail network have weighed heavily on the country's efforts toindustrialize. Grappling with the slowest economic growth in nine years, Delhi recently scaled back a target to pump $1 trillion into infrastructure over the next five years.
Major industries have dedicated power plants or large diesel generators and are shielded from outages -- but the inconsistent supply hits investment and disrupts small businesses.
High consumption of heavily subsidized diesel by farmers and businesses has fuelled a gaping fiscal deficit that the government has vowed to tackle to restore confidence in the economy. But the poor monsoon means a subsidy cut is politically difficult.
On Tuesday, the central bank cut its economic growth outlook for the fiscal year that ends in March to6.5 percent, from the 7.3 percent assumption made in April, putting its outlook closer to that of many private economists.
The ambassadors did agree to add more people and entities to the EU's asset freeze list, using expanded criteria including Russian companies that help to undermine Ukraine's sovereignty
Washington has pressured companies and governments not to buy crude from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), but it has stopped short of banning U.S. firms from buying it outright.
The whistleblower's email said GSK used its own employees and Syrian distributor Maatouk Group to make illicit payments.
The hackers broke into a database storing details of people who had registered for ECB conferences, visits and other events, the bank said.
Russia generated $356 billion from oil, gas exports last year, data shows.
While stopping far short of targeting physical energy supplies, EU ministers for the first time this week raised the idea of restricting Russian access to oil and gas technology.
They were among nine organisations and three people added to the EU's Syria sanctions list, published in the bloc's Official Journal
Land reform remains a sensitive issue in South Africa, where 20 years after the end of apartheid the white minority still holds around 87 percent of commercial farm land.
Talks are reportedly underway for a number of investment projects, including in pharmaceuticals and automotive assembly, but no final investment agreements are expected this week.
The yuan will be the world's third largest currency after the U.S. dollar and euro, a Chinese report predicts.
Unemployment currently stands at 12.7 percent in Kenya and affects 30 percent of the country's population
GM so far this year has recalled about 14.7 million vehicles worldwide with switch-related issues and has linked at least 16 deaths to those issues.
The deal includes hydropower and nuclear power plants in the South American country.
State-run think tank Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) reported earlier this month that a twin-engine version of the fighter jet is expected to cost around 8.5 trillion won
Western officials have repeatedly warned Iranian counterparts over the past six months that more economic pain is a risk for an OPEC member whose oil exports have already shrunk to a fraction of what they could have been
The EU's employment commissioner said he has asked to meet with Microsoft to discuss the social impact of the layoffs.