Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had a pleasant surprise from the Shinzo Abe led Japanese Government. One of the highest Civilian Honors of Japan “The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers” is to be bestowed upon Dr. Manmohan Singh. According to the Japanese Embassy the award is in recognition of his contribution to India-Japan relationship over the past 35 years. The award is part of the 2014 Annual Imperial Decorations of Japan. Dr. Manmohan Singh who will be one of 57 Foreign Recipients of the Award had this to say: “humbled by the love and affection showered upon me by the people and government of Japan.” “India and Japan have a shared vision of a rising Asia. Over the past decade, therefore, our two 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 greater heights in our bilateral relationship in future,” There is however an inside story to the sequence of events that led to the Japanese deciding to confer the award upon the former Prime Minister. Sources have told Team Niti Central that the question on who to confer the award upon came up during the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Japan. Niti Central readers would recall the deep bonding that was on display through much of the Japan Visit between PM Modi and PM Abe. Niti Central readers would also recall the PM surprising many with his spontaneity during the visit from playing drums to engaging school children. A little known side story to that highly succesful Japan visit however is how Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonstrated great bi-partisanship in zeroing on former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh’s name for the award along with his Japanese hosts. A sensitive issue however was Dr. Manmohan Singh’s openness to accepting the award. The Prime Minister, sources tell Niti Central entrusted the delicate yet important task of understanding Dr. Singh’s mind on the subject to a Senior Official. It was left to this senior Official to secure the consent and appropriately convey it to the Japanese culminating in the announcement earlier this week. While some were quick to jump on PM Modi’s silence on the matter little do they realize the subtlety and nuance underlying the Prime Minister’s bi-partisanship. Recent experiences withthe Congress Party suggest it can get very petulant over even the slightest appreciation from the Prime Minister towards any Congress MP or former Minister. Thus the PM in his wisdom and sagacity has understated the role of his own government and himself in the matter, as former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is all set to be honored by the Japanese. Clearly the Modi-Abe relationship elevated India-Japan ties to a level where it transcends the differences between individuals and divisions between political parties.