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Why is this visit important?

Bush's visit to India is a sign of the changed nature of bilateral relations.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2006 01:51 IST

Before, US presidents used to let 20 years or so slip by before visiting India. George W Bush and Bill Clinton are the first examples of successive Oval Office residents to come here.

This reflects the changed dynamic of the Indo-US relationship. India is no more an exotic destination. "The world's largest democracy" has graduated to becoming a nation that a US president must visit as a matter of state policy.

Bush's visit is a sign of the changed nature of bilateral relations. No one is talking about "alliances" or "mutual defence pacts". That is all meaningless, post-Cold War. Even those who preach the China-balancing game are really only talking about economic rivalry. Indo-US relations will be built on the back of Indian and US individuals, businesses, NGOs and the like. The governments are focused on clearing the underbrush.

The Bush administration has committed itself to helping India to become a "major power". What this shows is the remarkable comfort in Washington about the rise of India. Bush's accomplishment has been to instinctively look at the two countries' shared democratic values, the success of Indians abroad and the convergence of their worldviews and say "we can take risks to better relations with this country".

What to watch out for

Nuclear deal More accurately, the separation plan. It may not see closure on this trip, but it would symbolically end 40 years of the US trying to keep India off the high table of power.

Space initiative ISRO is ready for take-off. The US will end the sanctions regime that kept Indian space industry from being a money-spinning global player.

CEO's forum A lot of India's economic bottlenecks, such as infrastructure, require US private firms to play a role. The forum will explain how they can do this.

Science India wants help for a second Green Revolution and means to help clean up its plentiful but ash-heavy coal.

First Published: Mar 02, 2006 01:08 IST