Nathan, I must protest your inverted use of 'cynical'. Your "laterns and a few cell phones" is exactly what is NOT needed. It it his western idea that it's "OK to live in energy starvation with a battery and a hand crank...". You don't say this but it's implied. I've seen the laterns used, plugs in that run off of solar cells during the day. I have one word for this: "pathedic
". It is exactly what is holding India back from development. The standard, by any one looking to the future is very, very simple: "can it power a light switch?"
Solar as described cannot. It is pathedic. What Indian's want is 24/365 'laterns'...that is, to be able to read, cook, in safe reliable lighting. Not spot lights and LEDs and Christmas lights, but a simply, light bulb that will go on when they need it. They need refrigerators so their food will not spoil and last a few days longer, a cold drink perhaps in India's hot climate. Not a massive Sub-zero SUV of a fridge, but a small, half height, fridge the kind of which sits under your office desk. Not a plasma screen, but a small radio and perhaps a small TV set, on-demand connections to the internet, not broadband, but any connection. And that, Nathan, is the start, and the result, of a grid in development based on baseload power.
The solar example you cite is the exact opposite India needs to go in. It needs to start deploying it's smaller, sub-700MW nuclear reactors that grids can grown from, provide this sort of abundent energy. Solar simply keeps them...in the dark.