Seema Sirohi is a Washington-based columnist for 'The Economic Times' and is also affiliated with Gateway House Indian Council on Global Relations in Mumbai. Here she gives 'India Global Business' her insights into the India-US relationship from her unique vantage point.Has the India-US relationship really progressed over the past decade The relationship has not just progressed but transformed into a strategic partnership, touching some of the most important areas of geopolitics. Today India and the United States cooperate on maritime security, space, cyber security, counterterrorism, science and technology, space, health, and climate change to name just a few. There are more than 25 dialogues and working groups in action. The US is considering giving India the latest aircraft carrier technology. Defence cooperation, once absent, is one of the drivers of the relationship. There are more joint military exercises with the US than with any other country.To put this in perspective, remember how testy relations were in the 70s and 80s when Washington cared little about Indian concerns. The US lectured and India hectored. It was a dialogue of the deaf - if it can even be called a dialogue. Things changed dramatically once the Indian economic reforms came into play.How important is India to the US in terms of South Asian geopolitics India is very important for the US rebalance to Asia as Washington tries to remain the pre-eminent power in Asia-Pacific. China is asserting its presence in every way possible, including by threatening America's treaty allies such as the Philippines and Japan. India is the only country with the size and military strength that can possibly be a counter force if China's rise becomes expensive for peace and security.In the South Asian arena, there is a problem. It is called Pakistan. American compulsions in Pakistan and by consequence in Afghanistan override what should rightly be done to improve security in South Asia. India has long held that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism but it has taken the Americans three decades to understand and accept this basic reality. It is when their own soldiers started getting killed in Afghanistan by Pakistan-supported terrorists that realization dawned. But US policy hasn't changed. It is to keep giving Pakistan billions of dollars in the hope that its behaviour will change. It hasn't so far and is unlikely to in the future.Has some of the anti-immigrant rhetoric damaged ties It hasn't damaged bilateral ties, but yes, to some extent Indian workers get wrapped up in the rhetoric during election season. But the antiimmigrant sentiment is more aimed at illegal immigrants. Indian H1-B workers here are on proper visas. By and large, Indians have a positive image because the Indian American community is successful and a productive part of society. Again, perspective is everything. Rhetoric against “outsourcing” will rise as the presidential campaign gathers steam. And you just have to ride it out. If the Indian government wants to be activ then it should strategise and use its leverage better than it does.How important is the US stance on India's UNSC ambitions within the relationship It is important and President Obama supported India's candidacy. It is progress but largely on paper. We are very far from the day when India's ambition might be realized. The larger question of UN reforms is going nowhere because none of the permanent members of the Security Council wants expansion. Who would want to reduce their own power It is geopolitics 101. To me the more important question is: should we be expending political capital vis-à-vis our key partners on an issue that for the foreseeable future will stay still What, in your view, is the defining factor of the Modi-Obama era of the ties The “era” has barely begun and one can't really judge the level of success or point to a single “defining” factor. What I would say is that the Prime Minister has brought a sharper focus to foreign policy. He has energized the relationship, which under UPA II was in a “blah” mode. There was only finger pointing from both sides and no real work.People in Washington do recognise that Mr. Modi wants to take US-India relations to the next level. Surprisingly he seems to have struck a rapport with Mr. Obama - whether for pragmatic reasons of mutual benefit is unimportant - and the two have met more often than one would have expected. If the Modi government can create understandings with US business and make a couple of big projects work without problems, then economic ties could be the defining factor. It could have a cascading effect. And that would be good for geopolitics of the entire world.