Narendra Modi's stunning victory in India's parliamentary election is undoubtedly an affirmation of a contemporary "Indian dream" – the ability of an individual from a disadvantaged background to rise to the height of power and success.
Yet along with its tantalizing promise of greater meritocracy and social mobility in a land of vast socio-economic disparities and entrenched privilege, Mr Modi's win also reflects a darker aspect of India's democracy: the way money power determines political outcomes.
It may never really be known how much money Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party spent on the dazzling, high-tech campaign to persuade millions of voters that he was the man to lead India out of its current economic and governmental malaise.
Nor could the scores of trucks and buses – and the army of nearly 4,000 workers – required to move and install the satellite dishes and projectors at one remote site after another.But the technology that permitted Gujarat's chief minister to simultaneously address 100 rallies – in the form of a 10-feet-tall hologram – while images of the crowd were beamed back to him at the BJP's Ahmedabad offices cannot have come cheap.
In Indian cities, bus shelters, billboards and newspaper front pages were plastered with so many advertisements bearing Mr Modi's brooding face it was hard not to feel that Big Brother was indeed watching. Television broadcasts of the popular Indian Premier League cricket matches also aired a relentless series of Modi ads during commercial breaks.
Advertising industry executives estimate the BJP spent at least $500 million on traditional media advertising alone. A member of Citizens for Accountable Governance, which helped run Mr Modi's campaign, says the campaign spent around $670 million over eight months. Others say the true spend is probably far higher. A BJP spokeswoman was unable to provide any official estimate at all.