Narendra Modi in Israel: PM's flair for 'gift diplomacy' shows he's a thoughtful guest

Much is being said and written about Narendra Modi's historic visit to Israel, a first by an Indian prime minister in the two nations' diplomatic history. However, the gift the Indian prime minister brought with him for his Israeli counterpart is no less special.

Modi gifted Benjamin Netanyahu replicas of two sets of relics from Kerala, regarded as key artifacts of the long Jewish history in India. They comprise two different sets of copper plates that are believed to have been inscribed in 9-10th century, the PMO tweeted. One of the inscriptions is believed to be a cherished relic for the Cochin Jews in India, while the second set is believed to be the earliest documentation of the history of Jewish trade with India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu replicas of 2 sets of relics from Kerala that are regarded as key artifacts in the long Jewish history in India. narendramodi.in

Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu replicas of two sets of relics from Kerala that are regarded as key artifacts in the long Jewish history in India. Image courtesy: www.narendramodi.in

While mementos handed over to grace ties with other nations adds to the diplomatic camaraderie, Modi's special attention to these exchanges shows that the prime minister is a thoughtful and gracious guest. Choicest of gifts have often been picked ahead of Modi's foreign trips, keeping the recipient in mind. These gifts also seem reflective of the relationship between India and the receiving country, while signifying India's rich cultural heritage.

For his US visit, Modi picked an array of gifts signifying close ties between the US and India. Modi presented US First Lady Melania Trump a traditional, handcrafted silver bracelet and hand-woven shawls from Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Modi also gave Donald Trump a folio containing an original commemorative postage stamp issued by India 52 years ago to mark the death centenary of US president Abraham Lincoln.

On his visit to Saudi Arabia, Modi gifted King Salman a replica of Cheraman Juma Masjid. Located in Thrissur district of Kerala, the Cheraman Juma Masjid is believed to be the first mosque built in India by Arab traders around 629 AD. The prime minister, in a series of messages, conveyed the significance of the mosque in highlighting the important place that Islam has in the Indian subcontinent. The local folklore goes that that the Cheraman king was also the first to embrace Islam after he received a divine dream, which he could interpret only with the help of Arab traders.

PM Modi

PM Modi gifted Saudi Arabia's King Salman a replica of Cheraman Juma Masjid. Image courtesy: www.narendramodi.in

When Modi visited Uzbekistan, he carried a specially commissioned replica of Khamsa-i-Khusrau by the 13th century Sufi poet, Amir Khusrau, according to Modi's website. Apparently, it is believed that while Khusrau was born in India's Uttar Pradesh, his father originally hailed from Uzbekistan — again establishing historical links with the central Asian nation known for its mosques and mausoleums while highlighting how Urdu, an Arabic language, grew and blossomed in India.

PM Modi presented Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov a specially commissioned reproduction of Khamsa-i-Khusrau by 13th century sufi poet Amir Khusrau. Image courtesy: www.narendramodi.in

PM Modi presented Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov a specially commissioned reproduction of Khamsa-i-Khusrau by 13th century sufi poet Amir Khusrau. Image courtesy: www.narendramodi.in

For Iran's Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Modi picked a rare seventh century manuscript of the Holy Quran written in Kufic script and attributed to the Prophet's son-in-law Hazrat Ali, according to NDTV. "The specially commissioned reproduction of rare 7th century manuscript of the Holy Quran is attributed to Hazrat Ali, the fourth Islamic caliph and first Shia Imam," the article states. Modi gifted Sumair Chand's Persian translation of Ramayana to Iran President Hassan Rouhani along with some collections of Mirza Ghalib's works in Persian. "Translated into Persian in 1715 and copied in 1826, the Ramayana is a rare manuscript and contains over 260 illustrations — possibly the largest number in any hand-written Ramayana manuscript," the article added.

PM Modi picked a rare 7th Century manuscript of the Holy Quran written in Kufic script for the President of Iran. Image courtesy: www.narendrmodi.in

Modi picked a rare seventh century manuscript of the Holy Quran written in Kufic script for the President of Iran. Image courtesy: www.narendrmodi.in

In another rather poignant gesture, Narendra Modi gifted Nawaz Sharif a shawl for his elderly mother. Recounting a conversation with Sharif as he handed over the gift, Modi said that Sharif had earlier told him about his weekly visits to his mother, and how they watched Modi meet his mother on television together. The moment had made Sharif emotional, he had recounted. Modi, thoughtful of this little exchange, remembered to send a gift for Sharif's mother. Nawaz Sharif's daughter Mariyam was also overwhelmed with the move and even tweeted a picture of the gift.

Modi again touched many hearts when he stopped over for a surprise visit in Lahore, on his way back from Afghanistan. He wished Sharif a happy birthday and also congratulated him on his granddaughter's wedding. Sharif reciprocated the move by wearing a pink Rajasthani turban gifted to him by Modi at the wedding ceremony.


Published Date: Jul 05, 2017 04:55 pm | Updated Date: Jul 05, 2017 05:00 pm

Also See