Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks after being conferred the honorary doctorate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in Moscow. (PTI Photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday surprised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by gifting him some pictures and coins that symbolise the bilateral relationship dating back to over 100 years.
Surprising even his own protocol men, Putin gifted Singh a Mughal era coin and an artwork that had a picture of Tsarevich, who later become Nicholas II (the last Emperor of Russia) and the Maharajas of Benares, reflecting the connection of two royalties and an map of India that showed the 30 cities he visited way back in 1891.
Another gift was a map of India from the 16th century and coin of the Mughal period.
The Prime Minister replied, "I am touched by your gesture and this reflects our historic and age-old ties."
Indian officials – who were pretty impressed with the thought that Putin had put into the selection of the gift rather than leave it to the protocol officials – said Putin explained that these gifts showed that relations between the two countries went far beyond 1947.
Though officially diplomatic relationship was established just a little over 60 years ago, Russia had opened its first consulate in Bombay in 1900 which was later shifted to Calcutta and then to Delhi after independence.
(With inputs from PTI)