India prides itself on being the world's largest democracy. And last week the country put that democracy to work.

In a stunning upset, millions of impoverished citizens — tired of the "haves" lording it over the "have-nots" — sent the nation's current leadership to the sidelines and installed Sonia Gandhi — an Italian-born heiress to the Gandhi legacy — as the new head of the government. Her son, Rahul, also was swept into a Parliament seat.

Tallying the vote in India took 16 hours, with 380 million digital ballots being counted from electronic voting machines. But, by the end of the day, the people had spoken.

Needless to say, there are civic lessons galore in this election. Lesson one might be that democracy, although messy and often complicated, can indeed function in a developing country. Making democracy work requires will, not wealth. We should not get discouraged if its first buds in Iraq don't look promising.

That said, however, India might also serve as a cautionary tale. Democracy is not an antidote for the ills of a nation. It is not the cure, it is the tool. After democracy is in place, the people must put it to work to create a better society.

The election also showed that having a bankable name goes a long way in any democratic society. In Utah, the names Matheson and Huntsman are in the forefront again. The names Bush and Kennedy have always had national cache. And in New Delhi, the name Gandhi will always have a mystical, magical aura.

Mahatma Gandhi, of course, with his wisdom and wiliness, became one of the most revered leaders in the modern world. He freed India to have a democracy. Sonia Gandhi herself is the widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who used his legendary name to great advantage during his own years in office.

We wish India's latest Gandhi well and hope she makes headway in a nation where the caste system still holds sway and even saintly Mother Teresa and her sisters of mercy could not put a dent in the number of dead and dying along the streets of Calcutta.

Sonia Gandhi has the tool to get the job done: democracy. Now it will be up to her people to show the will and vision to put it to work.

As the Mahatma himself said, "Democracy can never be imposed from without. It must rise from within."

It has risen in India. We now hope it will be used to lift the quality of life of India's proud democrats. And we hope the people of Iraq are watching and taking notes.