United States (US) and India are two democracies that share innumerable similarities- both sustain religious strongholds in the country, both share a commitment to political and economic freedom, and both possess assimilative and integrative societies. On a cultural level, value for deep-rooted multi-ethnic diversity and respect for religion are their intrinsic strengths. Both countries share the common interest of free flow of trade and are oriented towards globalization. Geopolitically, both share an interest in winning the war over terrorism to create a strategically stable Asia. US and India have always shared a mutual awe for the others� vision of pluralism, tolerance and equal opportunity. Despite all the disparity, US and India share a strong bond- a bond of �Unity in Diversity� which is celebrated as an integral part of their national identities. Both US and India are open societies with a strong belief in civil rights of their citizens. Both have a vigorous free press and zealously guard the right to freedom of thought and speech. Persecution on the basis of faith is alien to both cultures.

On trade front, economical reforms since 1991 have radically changed the course of the Indian economy and have led to better growth rates, higher investment and trade. The effects of these reforms on trade and investment relations with the US have been profound. Though, the trade between the US and India is relatively small, it has risen sharply over the years. In terms of India's major trading partner, the US continues to lead. However, India's share in US trade is 24th in US export and eighteenth in US imports. The two countries have been making efforts to strengthen institutional structure of bilateral economic relations. Signing of "India-US Economic Dialogue" by Indian Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, and US President, Mr. Bill Clinton, in 2003, aims at deepening the Indo-American partnership through regular dialogue and engagement.

India's sizable population and growing middle and higher income class makes India a potentially large market for U.S. goods and services. According to the figure from government sources, U.S. exports to and imports from India in 2003, totaled US $5.0 billion and US $13.1 billion, respectively. India's main exports to US are precious stones, metals (worked diamonds & gold jewelry), Woven apparel, Knit apparel, miscellaneous textile article, Fish and seafood (frozen shrimp), Textile floor coverings, Iron/steel products, Organic chemicals and Machinery (taps, valves, transmission shafts, gears, pistons, etc). India imports sophisticated machinery (computers and components, gas turbines, telecom, etc), Electrical machinery (recording/sound media), Medical and surgical equipment/instruments, Aircraft, spacecraft (small aircraft), Precious stones, metals (diamonds, not mounted or set), jewelry, Organic chemicals, Plastic, Cotton and cotton waste and Wood pulp, etc.

The US investor community is today increasingly sharing confidence in the future of the Indian economy. Several areas like infrastructure, IT, Telecom sector, energy and other knowledge industries such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology possess immense potential for progressing economic cooperation between India and the US.

The Government of India is continuously reviewing its policies to create an investor friendly environment in sectors such as roads, ports and airports. Private sector participation in management, BOT projects, green-field airports, terminals and shipping berths and capacity augmentation has been initiated.

Among the major multi-national corporations of US that are doing a profitable business in India are- GE, Whirlpool Ford (India), 3M, Tecumseh Products (India) Limited, Pepsi, Proctor and Gamble (India), Microsoft, Intel, IBM Corporation, EDS, Sun Microsystems, Adobe Systems Inc, Agilent Technologies Inc, Oracle Corporation, Texas Instruments. Several big names like, American Express, Citicorp, Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Convergys, etc. are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by India's IT Sector. Other Fortune 500 companies such as Morgan Stanley, AT&T, Reebok, GM, Fujitsu, Boeing, Pepsi, Swissair, Coca-Cola and British Airways have identified India as their outsourcing partner. Many more corporations across the globe are following suit.

In recent years India has also made progress in expanding their investment base in the US. India's UB has bought breweries in the US while companies such as Dr. Reddy's Laboratories and Ranbaxy have bought pharmaceutical manufacturing units in the US. In the IT sector, Tata Infotech, Sathyam, Infosys and WIPRO have large operations based in the US. In manufacturing sector, Mahindra & Mahindra and Jindals are few of the names with their operations in the US.

Indian immigrants into the US have been contributing to Indo-American relations on a level few other ethnic communities have reached. They have mobilized on various issues concerning their home country as well as taken active part in the American social scene. The Indian immigrants are slowly reaching the top rungs of the socio-economic ladder in America. They are transforming American economy by taking active roles as entrepreneurs, researchers, academicians, doctors, lawyers, engineers, managers and administrators. Their level of experience with democracy in their home country and their ease of understanding of English is valuable in the transition of a new global economy.

If the two mature and forward-looking democracies were to move forward, based on shared values and views on larger issues - ever mindful that cooperation is the key to global peace and stability, economical, social, and geo-political success is inevitable.