According to McKinsey, India’s urban population will increase from 340 million in 2008 to around 590 million in 2030. By then, India will have 68 cities with populations of more than 1 million, including six megacities with populations of 10 million or more, of which two—Mumbai and Delhi—will be among the five biggest cities in the world.
To cope with this breakneck urbanization, India needs to invest $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years to upgrade the infrastructure of its cities. Mumbai alone needs $220 billion. Will it happen? In India, there is a sideways movement of the head that means neither “Yes” nor “No,” but “Please don’t ask that.”
India’s electricity grid has missed every capacity addition target since 1951. The system is so dilapidated that 27 percent of the power it carries is lost as a result of leakage and theft. Even today, 300 million people—a quarter of the population—don’t have access to the grid. That’s one reason the blackout didn’t spark more public ire.
The root of the problem is one of many leftovers of India’s post-independence experiment with socialism.