Culture

600 Million – Half of India’s Population – Without Power

As India’s power grid collapses. The Wall Street Journal:

A massive power failure hit India’s north, east and northeast regions Tuesday, forcing offices and factories to shift to emergency generators and raising more questions about the state of infrastructure in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The blackout was even more wide-reaching and severe than the power failure that plunged several states in northern India into darkness Monday.

Some 20 of India’s 28 states were affected Tuesday, and as many as 600 million people – half of India’s population – reportedly impacted. Monday’s blackout, which was caused by a failure of the northern grid, affected eight states with a total population of around 370 million.

Tuesday’s power outage was caused by the failure of the power supply networks in the north, east and northeast regions at 0730 GMT, according to the National Load Despatch Center, a unit of Power Grid Corpof India Ltd. It added that work is on to restore the grid.

Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde also said that efforts are being taken to resume supply as soon as possible, especially to essential services.

The electricity failure resulted in a widespread breakdown of transport and other services. A spokesman for the Northern Railways and Eastern Railways said about 200 trains were stopped in their tracks.

Metro rail services in New Delhi and its suburbs were halted as well, a spokesman for the Delhi Metro Rail Corp. said.

At Delhi’s international airport, diesel generators were switched on quickly to ensure services were not interrupted.

Arup Roy Choudhury, chairman of NTPC Ltd., India’s largest power generator by capacity, said the company’s coal-based power plants have stopped operating.

“We are expediting [the process of restarting the plants and will supply] first to the railways within the next one hour,” Mr. Choudhury said.

The government has already announced the appointment of a three-member panel to study the causes of Monday’s power failure. The committee will submit its report in 15 days’ time.

 

Bible Archaeology

Seal Depicting Samson Discovered?

A small stone seal found during the recent excavations at  Tel Beit Shemesh could (!) be the first archaeological evidence of the story of the Biblical Samson.

Bible Places:

Some scholars are suggesting that the depiction on a seal found in the Sorek Valley shows the biblical hero Samson subduing a lion. From Haaretz:

A small stone seal found recently in the excavations of Tel Beit Shemesh could be the first archaeological evidence of the story of the biblical Samson.

The seal, measuring 1.5 centimeters, depicts a large animal next to a human figure. The seal was found in a level of excavation that dates to the 11th century B.C.E. That was prior to the establishment of the Judean kingdom and is considered to be the period of the biblical judges – including Samson. Scholars say the scene shown on the artifact recalls the story in Judges of Samson fighting a lion.

But excavation directors Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz and Dr. Zvi Lederman of Tel Aviv University say they do not suggest that the human figure on the seal is the biblical Samson. Rather, the geographical proximity to the area where Samson lived, and the time period of the seal, show that a story was being told at the time of a hero who fought a lion, and that the story eventually found its way into the biblical text and onto the seal.

The story continues and explains some of the geographical connections. This discovery reminds me that while Samson’s life largely centers in the Sorek Valley, the most prominent city of that valley is never mentioned in the narrative (Judges 13-16). If the interpretation of this seal is correct, the people of Beth Shemesh remembered their local hero with some pride.

A high-resolution photo of the seal by Raz Lederman is available here.