Explained: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gifts to G20 leaders and their link to Gujarat and Himachal polls


Prime Minister Narendra Modi was all smiles in Bali as India took over the presidency of the G20 from Indonesia at the end of the annual summit. Meeting and interacting with world leaders, Prime Minister Modi also gifted various heads of states with artworks that reflect the country’s rich culture and diversity.

Interestingly, the artworks — ranging from paintings, silver bowls to dupattas — were curated from Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the two states where elections will be held and the results of which will be announced on 8 December.

Here’s a look at how the prime minister, the consummate politician, was able to connect India’s diversity along with the state Assembly elections to his gift basket for world leaders at the G20 summit.

Miniature paintings from Kangra

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted to his ‘friend’ Joe Biden miniature paintings from Kangra, a city in Himachal Pradesh, which went to the polls on 12 November.

The art originated in a small hill state ‘Guler’ in the first half of the 18th century when a family of Kashmiri painters trained in Mughal Style of painting sought shelter at the court of Raja Dalip Singh of Guler. This style reached its zenith during the reign of Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch (r1776-1824) who was a great patron of Kangra art.

The central idea behind Kangra paintings is often the immersive love story of Radha and Krishna. The romantic poems composed by Jayadeva (known as Gita Govinda) frequently provided a reference point for artists to visualise and paint the love life and legends of Radha-Krishna.

Today, the Kangra art form is a serene celebration of life and its simplicity, using naturalistic colours.

Also read: How PM Modi picks gifts for world leaders

Gujarat’s Mata ni Pachedi

To Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Modi presented a ‘Mata Ni Pachedi’, a handmade textile of Gujarat meant to be an offering in the temple shrines which house the Mother Goddess. The name is derived from Gujarati words ‘Mata’ meaning ‘mother goddess’, ‘Ni’ meaning ‘belonging to’ and ‘Pachedi’ meaning ‘backdrop’.

Mata Ni Pachedi was crafted by the nomadic community of Waghris as homage to various incarnations of the Goddess.

It is said that in this form of art, the goddess forms the central figure in the design, flanked by other elements of her story.

The gift is also thoughtful as it pays homage to Sunak’s Hindu roots, which he has proudly boasted of.

Patan Patola scarf from Gujarat

Besides Britain’s Rishi Sunak, Italy’s new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was also presented with a gift from Gujarat — a Patan Patola scarf.

This ancient art of double ikat or Patola woven in pure silk dates back to the 11th century. The double ikat scarf can be worn on both sides. Officials said the motifs weaved on Meloni’s scarf were inspired from the Rani Ki Vav, a stepwell in Patan, built in the 11th century AD.

Meloni’s Patan Patola scarf was encased in a ‘Sadeli’ box, which in itself is a decorative piece. Sadeli is a highly skilled wood craft, native to Surat area of Gujarat. It involves precisely cutting geometric patterns on wooden articles to produce aesthetically appealing designs.

Agate bowl from Gujarat

Modi gifted Agate Bowls from Khambhat in Gujarat to French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his meetings with them in Bali on Wednesday.

Agate, a semi-precious stone, is found in underground mines of Rajpipla and Ratanpur in riverbeds, and extracted to produce a variety of ornamental objects. The art of turning the stone into a range of products has been passed down through generation of artisans since the Indus Valley civilisation days and is currently practised by Artisans of Khambat.

The healing powers attributed to agate stones have sustained the use of agate over centuries.

Pithora from Chhota Udaipur in Gujarat

Australia’s Anthony Albanese also received an artwork originating from Gujarat, in perhaps a nod to the state Assembly elections — scheduled for 1 and 5 December.

Modi presented to his Australian counterpart a Pithora wall-painting made by the Rathwa artisans from Chhota Udaipur in Gujarat. These painting are depiction of the cave art that tribals used to make reflecting the social, cultural and mythological life and beliefs of those tribals. These paintings bear a striking resemblance the Aboriginal dot painting from the indigenous communities of Australia.

Silver bowl from Gujarat

Prime Minister Modi presented Indonesia’s Joko Widodo with a finely crafted silver bowl from Gujarat.

According to officials, the bowl was made by the highly skilled metal smiths of Surat region in Gujarat. They added that each piece of art created by them is highly elaborate, using precision, patience and skilled handwork, which captures the ingenuity and creativity of the artisans.

Also read: Mongolian horse, potatoes, and sperm whale’s tooth: A guide to gifting by world leaders

Kinnauri shawl from Himachal Pradesh

Apart from the silver bowl, Prime Minister Modi also gifted Widodo with a Kinnauri shawl — a speciality of the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh.

These shawls are made using the extra-weft technique of weaving. Every element of the design woven uses the knotting method — where the weft is inserted by hand and to lock the design, producing the lift in the pattern formed.

Kanal brass set from Himachal Pradesh

To Spain, the prime minister presented a Kanal Brass set, a straight brass trumpet, over a metre long, played in parts of Himalayan India.

It is used on ceremonial occasions, such as the processions of village deities. It is also used to welcome the leaders of the Himachal Pradesh. This traditional musical instrument is now increasingly used as a decor object and is manufactured in Mandi and Kullu districts of Himachal Pradesh.

With inputs from agencies

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Explained: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gifts to G20 leaders and their link to Gujarat and Himachal polls
Explained: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gifts to G20 leaders and their link to Gujarat and Himachal polls
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