A large-scale power failure this week has affected half of the population in India. The most serious blackout in human history was not caused by any one factor, but actually reflects the overall level of India's development. Other developing countries including China can use the incident to reflect on their own problems.
Electricity powers a country's modernization. China's power generation volume surpassed the US' last year, ranking top in the world. India, ranking fifth, has a power generation volume one-fifth of China's scale, although its GDP is one-fourth of China's.
Power generation tests a nation's comprehensive ability, from basic energy production, transportation and power grid buildup to electricity distribution and dispatch. As power consumption further rises, society has to develop a consensus on developing nuclear power, hydropower and clean energy.
China needs to generate more power to support higher living standards. It probably needs to double the current power generation to sustain the country's modernization drive. But the difficulty involved in further expanding electricity production has been clearly felt.
Thermal power is limited by the accessibility of more coal and oil. Building more hydropower stations is facing stronger resistance from public opinion.
Prospects for developing nuclear power are even less bright after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown following the massive earthquake in 2011. The wind power industry, though growing fast, cannot be expected to play a major role in the country's power grid.
India is stuck in a dilemma, but China is also facing a developing bottleneck. Its per capita electricity consumption is still much lower than the level of developed countries, but the public is demanding the same living standards enjoyed by rich countries.
India has been plagued by frequent blackouts, prompting anger from the public. Successive administrations have failed to tackle the problem. In India, there is little possibility that the public will approve large-scale nuclear or hydropower stations. It is also restricted by primitive infrastructure.
China and India were at about the same development stage in the 1950s. Today, India's per capita GDP is less than one-third that of China's. The infrastructure quality is also vastly different. The difference lies in the policymaking ability and the implementation process of the two countries.
Where can China learn development experiences? It shouldn't be from the US. If China's population were to take up the American lifestyle, it would destroy the planet.
But China has to move forward to realize better human rights for its people. This means it must be rational in pursuing its dream.