US President George W Bush has showered lavish praise on nearly 1.7 million Indian Americans by calling them the "brain power behind the high tech boom" that has transformed American society.
"As the high-tech boom helped transform our society, a lot of the brain power behind that boom
have been Indian Americans, as well as Indians educated here in America," Bush told a group of select Indian journalists at the White House.
"Let me make one other point, if you don't mind, that I should have made in my speech and that is that there are a lot of Indian Americans who made a tremendous contribution to our country, as well," he told them hours after his speech at the Asia Society on Wednesday that had made no reference to the contribution of Indian Americans to American society.
He also glowingly described a radical change in the image of India in the US, which is now perceived as the world's leading knowledge power and one of the fastest growing economies with a 300-million strong middle class that can provide a perfect market for American goods and services.
Bush specially lauded the Indian American community of software wizards for this dramatic transformation of India's image and their role in deepening strategic and business ties with the world's largest democracies.
He also promised to lift visa restrictions for educated Indians with high skill levels.
"And so the American people, as well, have begun to get kind of a different perspective on the great contributions that India can not only make to our own country but can make to the world."
A number of Indian Americans like Louisiana Congressman Bobby Jindal and others are likely to accompany Bush on his three-day India visit that will take strategic relations between the two countries to new heights.
Bush's praise for India and Indians was not just confined to the tech power but the spiritual side of India symbolised by Mahatma Gandhi, widely revered as the father of the Indian nation.
Bush said his earliest memory of India was about Gandhi. "It's my first memory, as I think about India. You know, a person who was so spiritual that he captured the imagination of the entire world."
"He's proof positive that -- throughout history there have been individuals that have had the capacity to shape thought and to influence and -- beyond border. And he did that."