The Singapore government wanted to name a variety of orchid, the island city-state’s national flower, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his November visit but the Indian leader declined.
In the past, Singapore has accorded this honor to the duke and duchess of Cambridge, Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate, the king and queen of Belgium, Phillipe and Mathilde, former U.S. first lady Laura Bush, former South African president Nelson Mandela, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and most recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping. Modi did, however, launch a commemorative Singapore-India stamp set comprising two stamps that depict the presidential residences of both countries.
Singapore is one of the few countries Modi visited as Gujarat chief minister between 2002 and 2014, when he was shunned by the West for allegedly turning a blind eye to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh declined the honour during a visit to Singapore in July 2011, according to an Indian official, who recalled that former prime minister Indira Gandhi had an orchid named after her. India’s former first lady Usha Narayanan who visited Singapore along with her husband, then president K.R. Narayanan, in the year 2000 also has an orchid in her name, according to the Singapore Botanical Garden website.
Naming an orchid after a country’s leader is aimed at promoting goodwill and fostering closer ties between nations, according to the website.
A separate section of the Singapore Botanical Garden is devoted to honouring artistes and celebrities. As the name goes, the garden acknowledges celebrities who have “contributed significantly to the society”.
Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan are among the many celebrities honoured by Singapore.