US President Donald Trump has conferred one of the country’s highest military decoration — The Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander — to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with Australian PM Scott Morrison and former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.
This is significant since the four leaders were key to reviving the Quadrilateral grouping since 2017, which is part of the Indo-Pacific strategy and is aimed at countering the growing belligerence of China in the region.
The award was received on behalf of the Prime Minister by Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
In multiple tweets on Tuesday evening, Modi stated: “I am deeply honoured to be awarded the Legion of Merit by @POTUS @realDonaldTrump. It recognises the efforts of the people of India & the US to improve bilateral ties, reflected in the bipartisan consensus in both countries about the Indo-US Strategic Partnership. The 21st century presents both unprecedented challenges as well as opportunities. The India-US relationship can leverage the vast potential of our people’s unique strengths to provide global leadership for the benefit of (the) entire humanity.
“On behalf of the 1.3 billion people of India, I reiterate my government’s firm conviction and commitment to continue working with the US government, and all other stakeholders in both countries, for further strengthening India-US ties.”
In September, the award was given — after 29 years — to the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
There have been two Indian recipients of the hounour in the past: Field Marshal K M Cariappa in 1950, and Gen S M Srinagesh in 1955.
The award is being given since 1943. Among others honoured with it were China’s Chiang Kai-shek (1943), Gen Georgy Zhukov from the Soviet Army (1945), France’s Charles de Gaulle (1945), Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej (1960).
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said that the award given to Modi is in recognition of his “steadfast leadership and vision for India’s emergence as a global power, and exemplary contribution made by him for the advancement of the India-United States strategic partnership and promoting global peace and prosperity”.
The Legion of Merit, in the highest degree of the Chief Commander, is a prestigious award conferred by the President of the United States, typically upon Heads of State or Heads of Government of other countries, the MEA stated.
The Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, is a domed five-pointed American white star plaque of heraldic form bordered in purplish-red enamel 215/16 inches circumscribing diameter with 13 white stars on a blue field emerging from a circle of clouds. Backing the star, a laurel wreath with pierced, crossed arrows pointing outward between each arm of the star and the wreath. The reverse is engraved with the words “United States of America.”
The citation with the award said, “for exceptionally meritorious service as the Prime Minister of the Republic of India from May 2014 to August 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s steadfast leadership and vision have accelerated India’s emergence as a global power and elevated the strategic partnership between the United States and India to address global challenges.”
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