Just a year back, the world's two biggest democracies were on a collision course over the Khobragade affair. Today, thanks to deft diplomacy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team, Washington and Delhi are well on their way now to chart a new course in their bilateral ties.

When Modi had visited the United States in September, his critics wanted to discredit him by asking where the substance was. They argued that Modi's visit was about style, that the optics overpowered the real issues that were bedeviling the relationship. When Modi invited Obama as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, the critics came back arguing that what was the point of inviting Obama who had become a lame-duck president with the defeat of the Democrats in the November midterm elections.

But what Modi and Obama have been able to accomplish now underscores once again how far ahead Modi is of his critics. It also shows the remarkable ability of Modi to understand how modern-day politics and diplomacy work. It was the optics of his visit to the U.S. last September that convinced Washington about Modi's ability to deliver. The Obama administration recognized that, after years of disappointment from Manmohan Singh, they were now getting an interlocutor in Modi who understood how important it was to get the U.S.-India relationship right and he was ready to deliver with his immense cache of political capital.