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Centre's Gift Chest Swells with 300 Foreign Items

Published: 18th May 2015 05:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th May 2015 05:59 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI:The first ten months of the Narendra Modi-led Government has made the Ministry of External Affairs’ Toshakhana or the treasure trove richer by at least 300 foreign gifts, with the most expensive one being a Rs 75,000 worth cufflink received by the Prime Minister.

Centre.jpgMore than a third of these gifts (110) were deposited during January-March, which was the last quarter on which the ministry has released data. The quarter also saw the Prime Minister depositing his most expensive gift so far - a gold-diamond cufflink. As per records,  the gift was deposited with the toshakhana on February 19.

Among the gifts received by Modi were a garland with rhino horn and a piece of rail track. Both have apparently been returned to the recipient.   As per guidelines, all foreign gifts have to be listed with the toshakhana, where their value is assessed. If they cost less than Rs 4,000, the recipients  have the option to take them back. For a more expensive item, there is also an option to pay the difference and retain the gift. From May to March, Modi had received 67 gifts. But, he has been far outstripped by his Cabinet colleague and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who has listed 120 gifts with the ministry’s gift depository. This time, she got 31 gifts - the most expensive being a jewellery set comprising bangles, bracelets, brooch, necklace, earrings and rings worth Rs 40,000. It has been moved to the toshakhana, which is located in Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan, MEA’s second home after the South Block.

Besides, she also got a gold saree pin, which is worth Rs 14,595. Among the interesting items she received was an LG 7.0 tablet worth Rs 9000. Incidentally, Sushma’s biggest gift haul was in the July-September quarter, when she had listed 44 items. Out of them, 11 were sarees - all of which she retained as per rules.

There have been several new entrants in the list during the Jan-March quarter, with Congress president Sonia Gandhi being the most intriguing. She deposited two desktop watches embedded in a crystal glass cover on February 10. They were assessed to have no commercial value but are yet to be claimed by the recipient.

Among the bureaucrats, Foreign Secretary Jaishankar is undoubtedly the largest recipient. He received 13 gifts. For the first time, Home Secretary L C Goyal also made his presence felt in this regard with three gifts - a saree, a cotton bed sheet and a brass memento. The senior-most bureaucrat to have drawn attention is NSA Ajit Doval who got a tea-set worth Rs 4,500 in March.

Sushma far ahead of her colleagues

Modi has been far outstripped by his Cabinet colleague and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who has listed 120 gifts with the ministry’s gift depository. Her biggest gift haul was in the July-September quarter, when she had listed 44 items



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