Protocol comes in way of Karnataka's gift

Protocol comes in way of Karnataka's gift

Handing over gifts to a visiting dignitary is no kid business, the Karnataka government has realised the hard way.

The Siddaramaiah-led government wanted to gift specially made Channapatna toys, Mysore silk saree, dothi and shawl to US first couple President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. But, unfortunately it is lying at Karnataka Bhavan here even as the President and his entourage left the country ending their three-day state visit on Tuesday.

Reason: the Congress state government committed a gaffe. The state decided on its own to show affection, unaware of the protocol that does not permit any state government to give gifts to any visiting head of a nation other than offered by the central government, an official from the Prime Minister’s Office told Deccan Herald.

Besides, gifts to a visiting dignitary by the host country head is only on reciprocal basis and decided by the ministry of external affairs, said the official adding, “the Karnataka Government sending gifts to Obama during his state visit was ill-advised”.

“There is a standard procedure to handover gifts to the head of a country during their state visit, which is known to all state governments, including Karnataka government”, added the official.

When contacted, an officer from the state government said though they advised the government that protocol does not permit giving gifts, they had to bow to the decision taken by the Chief Minister’s Office.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s gifts included the famed Channapatna toys, a saree of signature Mysore silk, dothi and shawl, to be handed over to the US President. The CM has also written a letter to the President requesting him to accept the gifts by highlighting its significance. The CM addressed another  letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing his wish to hand over the gifts to the US President.

Officials of Karnataka Bhavan here delivered the letter to the Ministry of External Affairs seeking its permission to hand over the gifts to the US President, a few days back. However, the Ministry officials reportedly informed the state government officials that protocol does not permit any state government to handover gifts to any state head during their state visit.

If any head of state visited a state capital, then the state government could felicitate him in according with laid down protocol, the official conveyed to the state government officials.

The Karnataka government assigned Rahim Khan, a 36-year-old artist, to craft some Channapatna  toys. These traditional toys and dolls made of special wood in attractive colours, are protected as a geographical indication (GI) under the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

During Obama's first visit to India in November 2010, his wife, US First Lady Michelle, had bought Channapatna toys worth Rs.2,000 ($25 then) at the National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum in New Delhi.

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