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Why India's election matters

Kim Hjelmgaard
Modi wins India's election in a landslide

India's Election Commission is projecting a huge victory for Narendra Modi's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

Read MoreModi wins India election by a landslide

If confirmed, Modi could be formally installed as the nation's new leader on May 21.

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressing an election rally on April 3, 2014 in Ghaziabad, India.
Ajay Aggarwal | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

Here's why the election is significant:

Sheer Size: With 1.2 billion people, India is the world's largest democracy and contains around one-sixth of the global population. More people voted in India's election — over 800 million — than there are in all of Europe (740 million).

Read MoreFriend or foe? Meet India's next leader

Out with the old: The outgoing Congress party, and its deep links to the Nehru-Gandhi family, has been at the center of Indian politics for all but 10 years since the country won independence from British rule in 1947. This is a victory for new blood. Voters rejected Rahul Gandhi — the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Indian prime ministers.

India elects new prime minister

Going it alone: The scale of the win — forecasts suggest the BJP may take more than 272 parliamentary seats out of 545 races — may mean Modi's Hindu nationalist party will be able to rule India as single party, which hasn't happened since 1984.

Big business: Modi has a pro-business agenda and India is a world leader in producing talented workers for the technology and modern healthcare sectors. Thousands of Indian expats have made huge contributions to economies across Europe and in the USA. India's new prime minister may find ways of luring some of them home. The Sensex, India's benchmark stock index, has taken note. At one point Friday it advanced as much as 6% before trimming gains.

Great expectations: "Modi promised the moon and the stars. People bought that," Rajiv Shukla, a Congress party leader said Friday. There is some truth to that. The BJP has vowed to clamp down on government corruption and Modi has ambitious plans to compete with its economic superpower next door China by embarking on a plan of aggressive infrastructure-building.

By Kim Hjelmgaard of USA Today