The Art of Diplomacy: How PM Modi’s Gift-Giving Diplomacy Promotes Indian Culture
By Raj Shah
Narendra Modi has been winning hearts with his diplomatic skills since he took office as the Prime Minister of India. His unique gift-giving has become an integral part of international relations between India and other countries. He presents world leaders with carefully chosen gifts that are either symbolic or represent Indian culture in some way. It is a subtle but effective way to spark cultural conversations and promote Indian culture on the international stage. In this blog post, we explore the art of diplomacy as demonstrated by Prime Minister Modi’s thoughtful gift-giving. We will look at the gifts he has given, why they are significant, and how they have helped to further India’s presence in the world.
PM Modi’s gift-giving diplomacy
PM Modi’s gift-giving diplomacy has become a captivating aspect of his role as Prime Minister of India. Through his thoughtful and carefully chosen gifts, he has found a unique way to promote and showcase Indian culture to world leaders. At various international events, Modi has made gift-giving a way to promote uniquely Indian art forms, traditions, and craftsmanship.
One example of this is seen at the G20 Summit, where Modi presented world leaders with exquisite Sheeshamwood Sandook (wooden boxes) and Kashmiri saffron. These gifts not only showcase the beauty and intricacy of Indian craftsmanship but also highlight the richness of Indian cultural heritage.
During his state visit to the United States in June, PM Modi gifted President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden with a range of distinctive items, including a Kashmiri papier mache box, a sandalwood box, an idol of Lord Ganesha, a Diya (traditional Indian oil lamp), and a copy of The Ten Principal Upanishads. Each gift symbolizes a different aspect of Indian culture and spirituality, sparking cultural conversations and promoting mutual understanding.
Modi’s gift-giving diplomacy was also on display during his visit to Australia, where he presented Prime Minister Anthony Albanese with a stunning Gond Art painting. This unique art form, indigenous to India, showcases the vibrant tribal traditions and artistic expressions of the Gond community.
Notably, during the Quad leaders’ summit in Tokyo, PM Modi gifted his counterparts with a range of distinctive gifts. These included a box with hand-carved Rogan paintings, Pattamadai silk mats, and Gond art. Each gift represents the diversity and richness of Indian art and culture, further strengthening the cultural connections between India and the world.
Through his gift-giving diplomacy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is effectively promoting Indian culture, sparking cultural conversations, and creating lasting impressions on world leaders. It serves as a testament to the power of diplomacy and the role that cultural exchange plays in shaping international relations.
The Cultural Significance of PM Modi’s Gifts
PM Modi’s gifts go beyond mere tokens of appreciation; they hold cultural significance that represents the diverse heritage of India. Each gift is carefully chosen to showcase a different aspect of Indian culture, from traditional art forms to spiritual symbols.
By presenting these gifts, PM Modi aims to spark cultural conversations and foster mutual understanding between India and other nations. The gifts act as ambassadors of Indian culture, providing a glimpse into the rich tapestry of traditions, artistry, and spirituality that make up the country’s identity.
For example, the Kashmiri papier mache box gifted to President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden represents the intricate craftsmanship and vibrant colors of Kashmiri art. The sandalwood box signifies the aromatic and soothing qualities associated with sandalwood in Indian culture. The idol of Lord Ganesha symbolizes prosperity and good fortune, while the diya represents the spiritual significance of light in Hinduism. Lastly, the copy of The Ten Principal Upanishads offers insight into the philosophical and spiritual teachings of ancient India.
These gifts not only serve as cultural exchanges but also create lasting impressions on world leaders. They help forge connections and build bridges of understanding, highlighting the rich heritage of India and its contribution to the world’s cultural tapestry.
Modi’s gift-giving diplomacy showcases the power of cultural exchange and demonstrates the importance of preserving and promoting cultural heritage. Through these carefully chosen gifts, he not only strengthens India’s soft power but also leaves a lasting legacy of cultural diplomacy on the international stage.
Examples of Modi’s memorable gifts
PM Modi’s gift-giving diplomacy has left a lasting impression on world leaders with his carefully chosen and culturally significant gifts. One of the most memorable gifts was presented to former President Barack Obama during his visit to India in 2015. Modi gifted him a handcrafted statue of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous three wise monkeys, representing the principle of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” This gift not only showcased the wisdom and philosophy of Gandhi but also symbolized India’s commitment to peace and non-violence.
Another remarkable gift was given to French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to India in 2018. Modi presented him with a replica of a 19th-century shawl, which was worn by Frenchman Victor Jacquemont during his travels in India. This gift highlighted the historical connections between India and France and celebrated the shared cultural heritage of the two nations.
PM Modi’s gift-giving diplomacy also extended to Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visited India in 2019. Modi gifted him a handwoven silk portrait depicting Jinping and his wife against the backdrop of the famous Chinese painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival.” This gift not only showcased India’s mastery in the art of silk weaving but also highlighted the friendship between the two countries.
These are just a few examples of the remarkable gifts that Prime Minister Modi has presented to world leaders. Each gift is carefully chosen to symbolize an aspect of Indian culture or to commemorate historical ties between India and other nations. Through his gift-giving diplomacy, PM Modi has effectively promoted Indian culture, created cultural connections, and left a lasting impact on the international stage.
Impact of Modi’s Gifts on India’s Soft Power
PM Modi’s gift-giving diplomacy has had a significant impact on India’s soft power and its influence on the global stage. By presenting carefully chosen and culturally significant gifts to world leaders, Modi has effectively promoted Indian culture and garnered positive attention for the country.
These gifts act as ambassadors of Indian heritage, showcasing the richness and diversity of Indian art, craftsmanship, and spirituality. They serve as powerful tools to spark cultural conversations and foster mutual understanding between India and other nations. Through these cultural exchanges, Modi has been able to strengthen India’s soft power by creating lasting impressions on world leaders and building bridges of understanding.
The impact of Modi’s gifts can be seen in the positive reception they have received from world leaders. They have not only appreciated the thoughtfulness and symbolism behind the gifts but have also expressed admiration for Indian culture and its contributions to the world’s cultural tapestry.
Furthermore, these gifts have helped to position India as a cultural powerhouse, elevating its presence and influence in international relations. They have sparked interest in Indian traditions, art forms, and spirituality, creating a lasting legacy of cultural diplomacy for India on the international stage.
Overall, Modi’s gift-giving diplomacy has been instrumental in promoting India’s soft power, showcasing its cultural heritage, and strengthening its influence in the world. It serves as a reminder of the power of cultural exchange and the important role it plays in shaping international relations.
About the Author
A software engineer by profession, Indian culture enthusiast, ardent promoter of hinduism, and a cancer survivor, Raj Shah is a managing editor of Desh-Videsh Magazine and co-founder of Desh Videsh Media Group. Promoting the rich culture and heritage of India and Hinduism has been his motto ever since he arrived in the US in 1969.
He has been instrumental in starting and promoting several community organizations such as the Indian Religious and Cultural Center and International Hindu University. Raj has written two books on Hinduism titled Chronology of Hinduism and Understanding Hinduism. He has also written several children books focusing on Hindu culture and religion.