New Delhi: Seven and a half years ago when Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh went to New York, it was the dawn of a new era and the defining relationship that marked his first term - the Indo-US nuclear deal - for which he staked his government.
This time around after missing three General Assemblies, the PM according to high level sources is going to New York because India is part of the rotational Security Council states. He will not even be meeting President Barack Obama, Foreign Secretary R N Mathai told Zee News, because "schedules clashed". Last time President George Bush had hailed the PM and kept addressing him as "Sir".
The once high noon of Indo-US relations have soured a bit with irritants such as the USA cautioning the UPA government on the treatment of Anna Hazare and an excitable Congress MP calling it the "movement guided by a foreign hand", economic ties under strain with big ticket aircraft and nuclear deals not coming through.
But, high level sources told Zee News that it will be unwise to say that the special relationship is endangered. They cite a new study of the Aspen group which says that the relationship is of immense strategic value which has moved on from episodic highs as India becomes a great power.
While, big ticket glamorous items will not be on the agenda and the necessary photo opportunities will not happen meaningful, work on the reform of the Security Council, which is being undertaken by the BRIC nations, will be on the agenda. The PM will press afresh for it.
The PM, who is travelling with his wife, has kept the entire last day for a meeting with his favourite daughter, Dr Amrit Singh - a lawyer based in New York.
National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Mathai and advisor to PM T K Nair all veteran hands are also travelling and there will be plenty of behind the scenes engagement on issues such as China.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is already in the US and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is also going to be holding a high level BRIC dialogue.
The September UN moment will see another change as unlike seven years ago, there will be no dramatic meeting with Pakistan on the bilateral track as there was with General Musharraf who talked about ushering in a "naya Kashmir". This time around the Pakistan PM will not even be present in the US.