Imagine a democratic election so enormous that it polls roughly the same number of voters as the entire population of the U.S. and European Union combined.
Such is the case with India's general election, which began Monday and continues through May 12.
As we see it, this is no ordinary election. It involves significant generational, geographic, ethnic and economic elements that have the potential to dramatically reshape India.
If that reshaping is inclusive and fair, it could be a good thing for women, the young and Muslims. But, if not, it could spawn serious turmoil inside the world's largest democracy.
This election is likely a watershed both in India and in Asia; besides, anytime a nuclear power is being reshaped, the world should pay rapt attention.
Polls indicate that regardless of heritage, background or political stripe most Indian voters are downright unhappy with their economic circumstance.
This election is likely a barometer of the voters' appetite for instituting substantial political and economic changes.
While India's political system more closely resembles the British model than the American one, many of the issues identified in those polls of India's voters resonate here as well: conflict between younger and older voters, substantial ethnic bloc voting, treatment of women in society, displeasure with a lackluster field of candidates and a general disgust with the corruption that money hath wrought in the system, just to name a few.
There is substantial discussion in both places about the middle class. The major difference is that in the United States there is much lamenting the supposed disappearance of its middle class, while India's rising middle class presents its own governing challenges.
While there is overall displeasure with the economy, India has seen a huge number of people rise out of extreme poverty in the last quarter century. As that happens, those voters are becoming less tolerant of both political corruption and ineffectiveness politicians.
The nation is clearly veering from the old feudal system whereby the peasants, who were often illiterate, deferred to the rich and powerful.
Predicting the outcome of such an election is dicey business indeed because there are so many unknowns. For example, about half of India's 1.2 billion people is under age 26 and about 100 million voters have been added to the rolls since the 2009 election.
Both numbers have politicians nervous and scrambling to discover the most effective ways to communicate -- television and social media being prime among them. The country's usual turnout is about 60 percent, but, many analysts suggest that, if recent state elections are any indication, the current disaffection may see turnout significantly increase.
Whatever the outcome, it is an election drama that should hold our interest.