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Finance & Innovation

520 million people just voted - do you know enough about it?

Today is a historic day for India- over 500 million of its citizens have voted with the hopes of a better future. Here's what you need to know:

1. India is the world’s largest democracy, containing over 1.2 billion people. In this election alone, 800 million were eligible to vote- that’s more people than all of the inhabitants of Europe, and almost 3 times that of the United States.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

2. Since India won its independence from the British in 1947, the Indian National Congress Party, dominated largely by the Ghandi dynasty, has led the country for all but 10 years. This had led to accusations of corruption and politcal patronage.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

3. Narendra Modi, representing the right-leaning Hindu nationalist party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), has just won in a landslide, largy as a function of the unpolularity of the Congress Party.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

4. Nearly 12% of Indians live below the poverty line, providing Modi and the BJP with a huge responsibility and opportunity to make a dent on extreme poverty.

Photo: Flickr: Michal Svec

5. Corruption, jobs and declining growth have been the defining issues of this election. Supporters of Modi hope his party will be able to change the political culture.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

6. Critics, among other things, worry that Modi will not protect the interests of India's sizeable Muslim community.

Photo: Flickr: Johanan Ottensooser

This election will have huge implications for the world's poor, of which India has a sizeable portion. What is perhaps the most important takeaway however, is that this massive election was able to take place in a populous developing country with a minimum amount of violence and with all portions of society having the chance to raise their voice.

The fact that the population has the chance to hold their leaders to account is a truly important step and is a teastament to the resilience of Indian democracy. 

To read more, check out the article from the New York Times.