"It's time to lead." With these four words Hillary Clinton underlined why the relationship with the US is so important for India. Among all emerging economies, India is the one whose potential as a global player commands the most enthusiasm from Washington.
Speaking in Chennai, the US secretary of state said, "Much of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia which, in turn, will be influenced by the partnership between the US and India and its relationship with neighbours."
Hinting at Washington's concerns about the Manmohan Singh government's foreign policy lassitude, she said, "This is not a time when any of us can afford to look inward at the expense of looking outward. This is a time to seize the opportunities of the 21st century and it is a time to lead."
She brushed aside the bilateral problems in the nuclear and defence areas: Like two different individuals, two different countries will have their differences.
Clinton, who has indicated that she will not be the US' face to the world after the Obama administration completes its first term next year, gave examples of where India could assert itself.
She said India could build a leadership role in the Asia-Pacific in forums like the East Asia Summit and the Asian Regional Forum, contribute more to maritime security, democracy promotion, "explore a new Silk Route" into Central Asia, support rebuilding Afghanistan and even help stabilise Pakistan.