As India's power minister stood up to address parliament one day last May, the chamber was plunged into darkness and a roar of laughter went up.
Rolling power cuts are part of daily life in India, where energy production falls far short of the demands of a fast-growing economy and an increasingly affluent population, but blackouts for two days this week across a vast swathe of the country were no laughing matter.
Three of India's five transmission grids collapsed on Tuesday, cutting power to states where some 670 million people live, more than half of the country's population.
That blackout, one of the world's worst, followed a similar breakdown across the north the previous day.
It is not clear what sparked the massive failures.
The central government has accused state governments of taking more electricity from the grids than their allotted quotas, and some have blamed disappointing monsoon rains for a surge in power demand from farmers struggling to irrigate their land.
However, deep-seated problems spanning the generation of power to its distribution mean a repeat of this week's fiasco cannot be ruled out.
"So many things have been ignored. So many things have not been done. It is lack of initiative and wrong initiative, wrong policy and no policy," said Suresh Prabhu, who was power minister in a previous government led by the main opposition party.
Prabhu said the power sector was in complete chaos and risked collapse if no action was taken quickly.
Image: Kashmiri women purchase clothes at a local market in Srinagar.
Text: Sanjeev Choudhary and John Chalmers, Reuters