Controlled media or not, the fact remains that US President Joe Biden and his administration pulled out the plugs for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From a carefully constructed millet dinner at the White House to a second address to the US Congress amidst continuous applause, the Biden Administration declared its support for the Indian Prime Minister to the world. The US President could not stop talking about , “the two democracies …etc etc” and left it to PM Modi to assert that India is recognised as a democracy because it respects human rights, and gives full opportunity to all regardless of creed, caste, religion and gender.

PM Modi was brought into the league of Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela, the only two other world leaders to have addressed the US Congress twice. Biden and the First Lady were in constant attendance, and Washington was a delirious journey through the ceremonial White House state welcome, the address to the US State Congress, the millet dinner, a joint press conference where just two questions were taken as against the four the Americans were keen on, and heady photo-ops.

There were some protests against President Biden for according PM Modi a state visit; the American media largely ignored the visit except for some critical articles; Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama spoke out for human rights in India; but these were largely side shows as the White House stepped up to give the Indian Prime Minister a visit to remember. And make it clear to the skeptics and the opposition in India, and the world that reports of a flailing Indian economy, a poor press index, adverse reports about the internal situation in India by US organisations would not come in the way of this burgeoning relationship between the ‘two democracies.’

What India and PM Modi have gained is clear. Recognition on the world platform, respect and a ‘green signal’ as an American article put it for policies at home. But the Americans do nothing without self interest on the table, and the real question is what has Biden gained for his country. Of course the usual defence and economic cooperation is being cited but this would have gone the US way without the 21 gun salute. The answers will unravel and lie somewhere in the Americans' insistence for joint cooperation against China. That is a given but the main question here is how? Is it going to be through US bases in the Indian Ocean? Something that India has been resisting for a long while? Is it going to be through an Ukraine kind of offensive where India buys US hardware to fend off the Chinese if they intrude further into its territory —which they are most capable of?

The Americans do not want India joining hands with China, but significantly there seems to be little indication of that. New Delhi remains suspicious of Beijing, and while close to Russia has always kept a distance from China despite NSA level talks and summit level parleys earlier. All political dispensations have since the days of Narasimha Rao preferred to lean towards Washington, which has wanted to intrude physically into Indian space every time it has fought a war in the extended region. As in Iraq where the pressure on the Indians to allow military bases for US aircraft was tremendous, and was resisted by BJPs then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. That pressure has remained through the years, as the US needs to be in control physically and logistically of spaces it considers integral to its long and short term strategies. In this case China, where Washington has zoned in on the importance of India as a geographical entity that can provide the necessary support in its counter offensive against China.

This is the key reason for the US tilt. Russia does not really matter now as it has been engaged in a long term war with Ukraine that has compromised its stature as a close partner of China. So India’s support for Russia is acceptable as long as it does not come in the way of Washington’s design to build a military wall against China. And given Moscow’s preoccupation at the moment there is little likelihood of that.

Pakistan that was the old US ally is over and done with, a broken country that can barely protect itself let alone preserve US interests. Beside’s geographically now it is not strategic to US interests that have moved out of West Asia after the region has been systematically destroyed. The Saudi-Iran equations have disturbed Washington somewhat but for the short term these are manageable.

PM Modi will return to India anointed as it were by the administration that had once denied him a visa, to prepare for his next important visit – to France where he is the chief guest on Bastille day and will receive similar accolades. He will return also to a burning Manipur, and to problems unresolved such as the wrestler's demand for gender rights; muslims and christians muted call for minority rights; farmers continuing protest for their long standing demands. The Biden magic wand will not make reality disappear, but will make it more palatable and create the space that the Prime Minister is looking for.

On the downside, although both President Biden and PM Modi shrugged it off publicly, the dragon’s fire will intensify. It is highly unlikely that China will watch the interplay of love and affection with equanimity; and will not be tempted to play with the opportunity provided to it through the burning fires of Manipur. The BJP seemed to have sealed the north east states support when it came to power, and hence it is a little surprising that it has allowed it to become unstuck so fast. And to what end? Manipur anger will spread to the neighbouring states, and the atmosphere of uncertainty and hostility could well be used by the eastern neighbour as it was in the not forgotten past.