Modi's Electrifying Promise

When Narendra Modi became India’s prime minister in 2014, 40 million Indian homes (300 million people) had no electricity. Modi pledged to fix that. Given the remote locations in which so many Indians live, it’s a huge job. Last weekend, Modi declared victory.


But when you hear that India now has “universal electrification,” remember two things:

The bad news: Modi defines “universal connectivity” as the point at which at least 10 percent of households in every village have power. Despite claims of “mission accomplished,” 30 million homes still light the night with candles. Just 8 percent of villages are fully electrified. Others face daily blackouts.

The good news: More than 5 million homes have gained electricity since Modi arrived in office, and more than 18,000 villages have now gained some access to power. That’s a major step forward for an awful lot of people.

The bottom line: Political hype or historic achievement? Like everything else in politics, it depends on where you sit. In this case, your answer will probably depend on how you feel about Narendra Modi and whether your lights work. Call it a “promising work in progress.”

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.