A top US official today described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as "a man of uncommon decency and grace" who has led the way in building the Indo-US partnership, as he presented the Indian leader 'The World Statesman Award.
"History will also mark with special significance Prime Minister Singh's personal contributions to the emerging partnership between the world's oldest and largest democracies, America and India," Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns said at an awards dinners in New York where the Prime Minister was awarded in absentia by the Appeals of Conscience Foundation.
Burns said India's rise may be as consequential for international order and the future of the global economy as any other development in the new century, and would be in the interests of the United States.
"As President Obama prepares for an historic state visit to India later this autumn, the promise of our partnership, built on strong bipartisan foundations in both our countries, looms bright and unmistakable.
"More than anyone else, it is Prime Minister Singh who has led the way in building US-India partnership," he said, citing Singh's strong support to the historic Indo-US civil nuclear deal.
He said Singh's economic policies have helped India's rise within the new G-20 world, and helped produce a doubling of US-India bilateral trade in just a few years.
"And Prime Minister Singh's advocacy of cooperation in high technology and science led to the recent launch of India's first unmanned lunar probe, which carried a NASA payload and discovered the presence of water molecules on the moon," Burns said.
Prime Minister Singh is not attending the UN General Assembly session this year.
"There could truly be no better choice, and no better model of what integrity and statesmanship are all about on the world stage... A man of uncommon decency and grace, Prime Minister Singh has never lost sight of his responsibility to lead every Indian," the top US official said.
"A member of the Sikh religion, he is the first Prime Minister of India from a minority faith. He currently serves in a government that includes a Hindu President and a Muslim Vice-President. The youngest Minister in his Cabinet is a Catholic," Burns said.
He said Singh was a man of even temperament, and remarkable modesty and humility, and has demonstrated his clear vision and steely determination as a leader, bringing great benefit to India and to the rest of the world.