Japanese scholar gets Padma Shri from PM

Published: 29th May 2013 08:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th May 2013 08:54 AM   |  A+A-


Ill health kept him away from the ceremony in the Indian capital but eminent Japanese scholar Noburu Karashima got his Padma Shri from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here Tuesday.

Karashima was named for Padma Shri, the state's fourth highest civilian recognition, by the government this year for his contribution to the field of literature and education. Due to health reasons, he could not be in New Delhi in April to get the award from President Pranab Mukherjee.

The prime minister presented him with the citation and the award at an event here.

Karashima, a Professor Emeritus with the University of Tokyo, had spent several years in India as a research scholar on south Indian history and epigraphy at the University of Madras in Chennai.

Fluent in Tamil and acknowledged as an authority on medieval south Indian inscriptions, Karashima occupied the prestigious chair of South Asian history at the University of Tokyo for over 20 years.

Does PM know less?

During his interaction with business and industry leaders here Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was asked by a banker why Japanese banks were not being freely allowed to open branches in India. The prime minister almost ducked the question before going in for a detailed reply.

"These are tough technical questions which are the preserve of our finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). If I may confess to you that the higher we go in public life, the lesser we know," Manmohan Singh said.

What the prime minister did not tell the banker was that before becoming the prime minister, he had been India's finance minister (1991-96) and RBI governor.

The prime minister then went on to give a detailed reply to the banker on how his government was trying to change things.

"With regard to the government of India's strong desire to see larger presence of Japanese banks in our country, whatever obstacles there may be, we have to make exceptions, we will make exceptions. We have to adjust our thinking to suit to changing needs of times. And you have my assurance, in years to come whatever influence PM exercises, it will be in support of larger presence of Japanese investment, Japanese banks in our country," he said.

"In public life I have imbibed enough to recognise that sometimes the best can become the enemy of the good, and we should not let that happen."

PM's personal touch

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been adding a personal touch to all his references to Japan and its top leaders.

Besides his association with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Manmohan Singh also referred to former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori as "not only a good personal friend" but also "a great friend of India".

Crediting Mori for adding a new phase to Indo-Japan relationship, Manmohan Singh said: "That is why we in India were privileged to confer on him our national honour of Padma Bhushan."

The prime minister said Japan, the land of the rising Sun, was the "locomotive of Asian renaissance".

"I was most deeply honoured by the invitation that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe extended to me to be his first guest in Tokyo this year. Unfortunately, I was unable to travel at the time due to my parliamentary commitments.

"While I missed the opportunity to visit during the cherry blossom season, I am delighted to be here in the season of Spring, which, I am confident, signifies a great future for our relationship.

"Japan has been close to my heart ever since I first visited this beautiful country in 1971. I am heartened to witness the transformation of India-Japan relations into a durable partnership," he added.


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