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DATE=3/18/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=INDIA - CLINTON (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-260311 BYLINE=ANJANA PASRICHA DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: Intro: President Clinton arrives in India Sunday, and begins his official five-day trip to India on Tuesday following a one day visit to Bangladesh. In the Indian capital, New Delhi, Anjana Pasricha spoke to a cross- section of Indians to see what the visit signifies for them. Text: An American President is arriving in India for the first time in more than two decades- a period in which many Indians were unhappy with what they saw as the United States "tilt" toward Pakistan in the Cold War years. As President Clinton begins his South Asian visit, there is an air of hope among Indians that times have finally changed. But this is tinged with uncertainty about what the visit will actually mean for the country. India's growing middle class, which is anxious to play a larger role in the global economy, wants both sides to put divisive political issues behind them - and focus on the business potential of the relationship. A senior corporate executive,Varun Mehta, says most people are not interested in issues such as nuclear non-proliferation that have been a bone of contention between the two countries. ///Insert Mehta act/// Yes it will be a very significant event, and will definitely go to improve Indo-US relations, but to my mind they should concentrate more on economic and business issues rather than political issues, which will of course have an impact once the relations are on the right side, and business climate improves. ///end Mehta act/// Others hope the visit means that the world's two largest democracies have finally found some meeting ground. A chartered accountant, Vinod Chadha says for him the visit symbolizes that "it's a multipolar world and everybody needs everybody." ///Insert Chadha act/// It's a very major milestone, and I think both sides desire to come closer together. Atmosphere is now very, very congenial. Both of them want to improve the relationship, and there is no reason why it should not work, because it seems to me both have very common objectives, economically, politically, the way they view the world. ///End Chadha act/// Many others are reserving judgement on the trip until they hear what President Clinton has to say while in India. Businessman Manjot Singh is not sure that the visit will spell anything significant for the country. ///insert Singh act/// He is the most powerful person in the world you know. He is coming to this country, it's a great moment. Now let's see, his coming, what difference it will make to this country - is it just an eyewash coming and going, or will they do something concrete for our country. ///end Singh act/// But for millions of ordinary people, it is not the political or economic aspects of the visit that are either important or interesting. Their imagination has been caught by the massive preparations surrounding the visit. People are avidly following media stories of where the President will stay, what food he will be served, whom he is likely to meet. They have been fascinated by accounts of the huge security cover for the tour, of bullet proof cars, food, and mineral water being flown in, and US Secret service staff taking over the hotels where the President will stay in different cities. (opt) A leading newspaper has even offered a prize for the best joke on President Clinton sent to them - and many like writer Purnima Dhir say this has become an essential part of their morning reading. ///Insert Dhir act/// Frankly I am very amused by all the jokes that have come out against him in the newspapers. I thoroughly enjoy reading them. ///end Dhir act/// (end opt) There is no doubt that as President's Clinton travels through five cities, Indians will be following the visit closely on their television sets -- looking carefully for signals to see whether India and the USA can share more in this century than they did in the last. (signed) NEB/AP/PLM ______________________________________________ 18-Mar-2000 05:59 AM EDT (18-Mar-2000 1059 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .