Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently in France and yesterday he was conferred with France's highest civilian and military honour, 'Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour' by French President Emmanuel Macron. PM Modi is the first Indian premiere to receive this honour.
What is the Legion of Honour?
The Legion of Honour is the highest French decoration given to the most deserving citizens in all fields of activity.
Former French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte established this award in 1802.
The Legion of Honour is divided into five degrees:
Chevalier (Knight): minimum 20 years of public service or 25 years of professional activity with "eminent merits"
Officier (Officer): minimum 8 years in the rank of Chevalier
Commandeur (Commander): minimum 5 years in the rank of Officier
Grand officier (Grand Officer): minimum 3 years in the rank of Commander.
Grand-croix (Grand Cross): minimum 3 years in the rank of Grand-officer.
Merit For French nationals
French nationals, men and women, can be received into the Légion, for "eminent merit" (mérites éminents) in military or civil life.
In practice, in current usage, the order is conferred on entrepreneurs, high-level civil servants, scientists, artists, including famous actors and actresses, sport champions, and others with connections in the executive.
Members of the French Parliament cannot receive the order, except for valour in war, and ministers are not allowed to nominate their accountants.
Until 2008, French nationals could only enter the Legion of Honour at the class of Chevalier (Knight). To be promoted to a higher class, one had to perform new eminent services in the interest of France and a set number of years had to pass between appointment and promotion. This was however amended in 2008 when entry became possible at Officer, Commander and Grand Officer levels, as a recognition of "extraordinary careers" (carrières hors du commun).
While membership in the Légion is technically restricted to French nationals, foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds may receive the honour.
Foreign nationals who live in France are subject to the same requirements as the French.
Foreign nationals who live abroad may be awarded a distinction of any rank or dignity in the Légion. Foreign heads of state and their spouses or consorts of monarchs are made Grand Cross as a courtesy.
American and British veterans who served in either World War on French soil, or during the 1944 campaigns to liberate France, may be eligible for appointment as Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, provided they were still living when the honour was approved.
Other personalities who received this honour include former South African President Nelson Mandela, King Charles - the then Prince of Wales, Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Color of ribbon
The color of the ribbon is red and the badge is a five-armed Maltese asterisk hung on an oak and laurel wreath. On the obverse is the effigy of the Republic and on the reverse two tricolor flags surrounded by the motto ‘Honor and Fatherland’ written in French.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a state visit to France from July 13-14, reached France on Thursday (July 13) evening. The Prime Minister will be the Guest of Honour at the Bastille Day Parade today, July 14 2023, where a tri-services Indian armed forces contingent would be participating.