New Delhi: Sending a strong signal to China, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday conferred the “Legion of Merit”, America’s highest military decoration, on three leaders of the “Quad” countries, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The other two were Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japan’s former PM Shinzo Abe. Mr Modi was conferred the award for 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-US strategic partnership and promoting global peace and prosperity”.
The award was received on the PM’s behalf by India’s ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu. Earlier, in September, it had been conferred on the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. Prior to that, the honour was last conferred nearly decades ago, in 1991.
This comes at a time when President Trump has just about a month left in office, after which he will be succeeded by President-elect Joe Biden. It is a prestigious decoration bestowed by the President, mostly to heads of state or government.
In a statement Tuesday, the MEA said: “The President of the United States of America conferred the highest decoration, the Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 21 December 2020. 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-US strategic partnership.”
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”.