French President Emmanuel Macron in a historic moment presented Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor on Thursday, July 13, 2023. It is the highest French honor in military or civilian orders. With this, Prime Minister Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to receive this honour.
Congress party’s national media panellist Surendra Rajput claimed that since around 10 lakh people have received the award, including Indians like Shah Rukh Khan and Shashi Tharoor, there is nothing to celebrate. In response to BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya’s tweet informing the prime minister of the award, Surendra Rajput wrote, “Illiterate Amit Malviya has given these awards to around 10 lakh people including Shashi Tharoor and Shahrukh Khan.”
While it is true that Shah Rukh Khan and several other Indians have been awarded the Legion of Honor by France, it does not mean that the award given to them is the same as that given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Because there are five levels in the Legion of Honor. Above is the Grand Cross awarded to Narendra Modi and below is the Knight awarded to Shashi Tharoor and Shah Rukh Khan.
It is similar to India’s civilian awards which have four levels namely Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratnam.
The Legion of Honor, known as the “Légion d’honneur” in French, is one of France’s most prestigious and prestigious awards. Founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, it recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions to the nation in various fields. The Legion of Honor is awarded to French citizens and foreigners who have made significant contributions to the country in the fields of art, science, literature, military, and public service.
The award is divided into five different classes: Chevalier (Knight), Officer (Officer), Commander (Commander), Grand Officer (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross). Recipients are elected by a Council, and the President of France is the Grand Master of the Order.
The Legion of Honor is characterized by a distinctive red ribbon worn on the left side of the recipient’s chest. It serves not only as a symbol of recognition but also as a mark of distinction and national pride. The award is a testament to the extraordinary contributions individuals have made to the cultural, social and political fabric of France, instilling respect and admiration within the country.
Interestingly, even though Shah Rukh Khan and Shashi Tharoor have won France’s Prime Civilian Award, they have not received the top honor on the list. Shah Rukh Khan received Knight of the Legion of Honor in May 2022. Shashi Tharoor received Same award in August 2022.
So, she got the lowest award, while PM Modi got the highest. Although all five awards belong to the Legion of Honor, they are not the same. Claiming that the two are the same is similar to claiming that the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Shri are one and the same, which is completely wrong.
While it is true that there are more than 1 million Legion of Honor awards, that includes awards at all five levels. The number of recipients of the Grand Croix is only about 3,000, including French nationals.
The award was established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte to honor civilians and soldiers. That is why the number of recipients is so large that it has been given for almost 200 years.