Being a Prime Minister of a country comes with its own set of responsibilities and perks and among these perks, receiving gifts on diplomatic tours, from state and country heads, other occasions and people, is fairly common. But have you ever wondered what happens to those gifts? Well here’s your answer.
As a rule, gifts are deposited in the Toshakhana, which is managed by the Ministry of External Affairs. As per a June 1978 gazette notification, every gift received by a person during an official visit should be deposited in the Toshakhana within 30 days of his return.
A list disclosing of all the deposited gifts is uploaded on the official website of the Ministry of External Affairs every quarter, since 2015. These lists include the gifts received by senior Indian government officials – which can be anything from crockery, mementos and cultural artefacts to paintings, jewelry and liquor.
According to ministry sources, some of these gifts are also put to use in Rashtrapati Bhawan, Rashtrapati Niwas (Simla), the prime minister’s official residence, Indian embassies abroad and various government departments.
Recipients are allowed to keep gifts, worth less than ₹5,000. In 2021, a cricket bat signed by legendary cricketer Sir Gary Sobers, worth ₹1 lakh was among the articles deposited by the PM.
In 2019, the gifts received by PM Narendra Modi were put up for auction. Over 2700 gifts that he got from across the country, by different organizations and government officials including, chief ministers, were at display at the National Gallery of Modern Arts in New Delhi. The proceeds generated from the auction were reportedly used for conservation and rejuvenation of the Ganga river.
The Ministry of External Affairs has its own rate of evaluation of the gifts, which is done by dedicated personnel.