The general elections currently underway in India are being described variously as "pivotal", "decisive", "most crucial" and "precedent-breaking". What is so special about these elections that they are generating such excitement? Is it because of the size of the electorate, an estimated 810 million voters, more than in any other democracy in the world? Is it the composition of the electorate, such as the large number of first-time voters? Or is it because India itself has undergone a significant transition and a change in the five years between the last general election in 2009 and today?
Kalpana Sharma is a journalist, columnist and writer. Currently, she is visiting faculty at the Graduate ] School of Journalism at UC Berkeley. Kalpana writes a column in *The Hindu* and is editorial consultant with the *Economic and Political Weekly*. In her over four decades as a journalist, she has held senior editorial positions at *The Hindu, Times of India, Indian Express* and *Himmat Weekly*. Her areas of focus are environmental and developmental issues, urbanization and gender.