June 19, 2006AsideForeign Affairs

Lavish tributes, parsimonious gifts

But it takes a real diplomat to practice good gift diplomacy

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Gen Musharraf gave President George W Bush an ornate table, an old musket, some fancy dress costumes, rugs and other knick-knacks. Chinese delegates generally gave books, including, in the case of Zeng Qinghong, China’s Vice President, an out of print edition of the Art of War for, but of course, his American counterpart Dick Cheney. In comparison, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave one of those marble tabletops, quite possibly something he picked up from Dilli Haat on his way to the airport. We are talking about official gifts received by US government officials in the year 2004, published in the Federal Register and first noticed by the inquisitive Chidanand Rajghatta (and since plagiarised by others).

But those who fear that the Indian government may be risking its interests in Washington by its parsimony need not worry. For Ronen Sen, India’s ambassador to the United States, knows better than to throw more furniture, guns and books into a White House that should have plenty of those already. He brought along a bottle of the excellent Dom Perignon champagne for Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Federal Register tells us that this has been deposited with the Secretary of the Senate. Let’s hope they’re saving it for the US-India nuclear accord to be ratified by Congress.

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