First-name bonding, “Barack and I.” Tete-a-tete over tea, “chai pe charcha.” Bear hugs, hand-holding and a walk around the rose garden, “chalein saath saath”. Footfalls echo in the memory… Well, one is not talking about puppy love of besotted lovers, but a tightening embrace of the world’s two largest, engaged democracies in an all-embracing agenda whose reverberations are going to be felt in the years to come.
In Delhi’s deepening chill, sparks flew and lit up a moribund nuclear deal and shone a new path of “shared effort, progress for all,” as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama firmed up an ambitious template for re-igniting the defining partnership of the 21st century and walked the talk to deliver substantive outcomes. The new normal in India-US relations, which was construed to mean habituation to sub-optimal engagement, has morphed into the “new normal high.” The big-ticket outcome of the Modi-Obama summit talks on January 25 was not just the nuclear deal, but the decisive shedding of ambivalence and diffidence, which will lead to the interlocking and intermeshing of the two engaged democracies across the full spectrum of economics and geopolitics.
Talking openly, resolving differences, joking with each other, and smiling naturally. This is the way to go for natural partners, and this hopefully should be the new normal high in the India-US relationship. No time for Mr Modi to lose sleep, the deal is done.