The results of the Indian elections are almost as monumental in their implications for the country as was the job of holding them.
Putting an end to 30 years of intermittent rule by the Indian National Congress party and three generations of the Gandhi family, the Bharatiya Janata Party of Narendra D. Modi, 63, won by a landslide in results that were released Friday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Gandhis conceded the loss promptly in the face of the BJP’s lead in a majority of seats in the lower house of India’s parliament.
The magnitude of the electoral process in a country with 1.3 billion people is staggering. Voter turnout was 66.4 percent, with 563 million votes cast. The elections took place April 7 to May 12.
The economy was said to be the principal issue. Even though India has shown consistent growth, including 4.5 percent in the last year, it faces three major, related problems. The most glaring is the unevenness of development and availability of social services in the country. Vast numbers of Indians do not have electricity or access to clean water, decent education or health care.
The second problem is inequality. Some Indian businesspeople, bankers and politicians are among the richest in the world, but the country’s poor — and very poor — remain numerous. Upward mobility is limited by caste as well as by education and other factors.
The third is pervasive corruption, from the lowest clerical levels of society up to the country’s oligarchs and politicians.
Mr. Modi has pledged to attack these problems and, as evidence of his good faith, he can point to his performance as longtime governor of the western state of Gujarat.
From the outside, it looks healthy for India to exit the dynastic rule of the Gandhis and their party, but to replace Congress party rule by that of a religious-based Hindu party, in a country with many religious minorities, may be to invite trouble down the road.
Mr. Modi does not have a clean record in that regard, but he may have learned some lessons over the years.
In any case, the United States will need to learn quickly how to work with him, given the importance of his country and the clear mandate he has received from Indian voters.