With a view to showcase the importance of India, US President Donald Trump conferred the highest decoration to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 21, 2020. The honour named as The Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander was received by India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu in a special ceremony in Washington DC. The same award was also conferred to Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, and former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe. Australian Ambassador A Sinodinos accepted the award on behalf of his Prime Minister Morrison and Japanese Ambassador Shinsuke Sugiyama on behalf of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe.
This is significant that the three Prime Ministers who got this highest honour of the USA belong to the newly formed grouping called a QUAD. Since Quad is a grouping of USA, India, Australia and Japan, the conferment of the decoration shows QUAD members have worked in tandem on issues related to global security and elevating US-India relationship in particular in case of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, “ The award is in recognition of the Prime Minister’s 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.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has welcomed the award and expressed deep appreciation of US President Donald Trump. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his three tweets series said that the award reflected the depth of Indo-US strategic partnership and reiterated commitment to work with US government for further strengthening bilateral ties. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his tweet specifically mentioned, “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 entire humanity.”
The External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar tweeted how important the award is. Dr. Jaishankar mentioned in his tweet: “The prestigious Legion of Merit awarded to PM @narendramodi reflects the strong India-US strategic partnership today. PM recognised its true potential and guided its progress. Confident that the relationship will continue to grow in the years ahead.”
The citation on the award resonates that the Decoration is being accorded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi “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. Prime Minister Modi’s personal engagement expanded United States-India ties across all facets of the relationship, helping to establish a strong foundation for an enduring partnership that is based on shared commitment to freedom, democratic principles, the equal treatment of all citizens, and the rule of law.”
For Quad grouping Indo-Pacific has been an important area of concern. That is why the citation mentions, “India is a key partner for the United States in the Indo-Pacific, where the two countries are increasing collaboration to ensure freedom of the seas, open and transparent investment and infrastructure development, secure and reliable digital networks, and good governance. Prime Minister Modi’s personal initiative strengthened the defense partnership between the United States and India, enhancing the United States’ ability to secure joint military cooperation that addressed shared challenges.”
The US Trump presidency also recognised, “His efforts to expand India’s economic cooperation with the United States has advanced prosperity, investment and job creation in both countries. Prime Minister Modi’s superior effort, personal leadership, and unwavering commitment to advancing strategic cooperation between the United States and India and promoting global peace and prosperity reflect great credit upon himself, the Indian armed forces, and his country.”
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 Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, bestowed on PM on behalf of President Trump is the highest military decoration of the United States. The Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, is a rarely-awarded, prestigious decoration that can only be bestowed by the President, typically to Heads of state or Heads of Government of other countries.
Earlier, on 18 September 2020, after a very long gap, President Donald J. Trump awarded the Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, to His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait (it was last awarded in 1991). 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.”