Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was a darling of the Japanese that everytime he is out of power, they take the opportunity to honour him with one award or the other.
When he was not a finance minister and the Congress was out of power in 1997, he was conferred the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth and was invited to Tokyo for the brief ceremony. Now that he is out of power again, he will be conferred the ‘Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers’.
One reason that Japan gives away awards was to thank the leaders for helping bilateral ties and secondly, it is bereft of political mud-slinging when they are honoured after being in power. Thirdly, the recipients remember it better than when they are given during their term in office, a true diplomacy with a long vision.
The former Indian prime minister, who was at the helm of the country for a decade till the 2014 elections, said he was “truly honoured” to be awarded the top Japanese honour and feels “humbled by the love and affection showered upon me by the people and government of Japan.”
He said Japan’s rise as a modern, knowledge-based industrial power has been a source of inspiration for India. “I first visited your beautiful country in 1971. It has been my dream to see our relationship grow and prosper, and this is an objective towards which I have worked, not only in my tenure as the prime minister of India, but across the larger part of my career in public service,” Manmohan Singh said.
“Today, I am heartened to witness the transformation of India-Japan relations into a durable partnership.” He said that over the past decade, both countries have established “a new relationship based on shared values and shared interests”.
“I have no doubt that with the common efforts and initiatives of the people of Japan and India, we will scale even greater heights in our bilateral relationship in the future.”
The embassy said Manmohan Singh was being conferred the honour “in recognition of his significant contributions to the enhancement of relations and the promotion of friendship between Japan and India for about 35 years”.
“The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers is a high level National Order rarely awarded to those who are recognised for their distinguished contributions. Manmohan Singh is the first Indian recipient of this Order,” it said.