It doesn’t get bigger than this. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to receive Japanese emperor Akihito and his wife empress Michiko at the airport as New Delhi prepares for the historic welcome. The royal couple will arrive in New Delhi on a six-day visit beginning November 30.
In another rarity, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid will be the minister-in-waiting during the trip, accompanying the dignitaries all through their official engagements in the country.
The visit is historic in many ways. This is the first time India is hosting the same guests on a state visit, after a gap of 53 years.
Efforts are also on to ensure that the emperor and empress walk down memory lane about their visit to India in 1960 as the crown prince and princess with the same aplomb. Then, president Rajendra Prasad, vice-president S Radhakrishnan and prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru received the couple.
If all goes as per script, this will be fourth time in his career that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be receiving a guest at the airport.
In January 2006, he received Saudi king Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud at the airport — the first time a Saudi King visited India in 51 years. Singh had also received US President Barack Obama and his predecessor George Bush in similar fashion.