$572,187.36: that’s how much Barack Obama spent on hosting Manmohan Singh at the White House

The most lavish State Dinner during his watch, till now.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: The Department of State’s Office of Protocol has released figures that reveal how much President Barack Obama spent on state dinners since taking office in 2009, with $1.55 million being spent on five such events and the most being lavished upon Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Singh was treated to a dinner at the White House when he visited his American counterpart on November 24, 2009, the cost for which has now been revealed to be a whopping $572,187.36. That means that the one dinner alone constituted more than one-third (37%) of the total amount spent on the five dinners.

The other dinners were hosted for the following world leaders: Mexican President Felipe Calderon in May of 2010, which cost $563,479.92; Chinese President Hu Jintao in January of 2011, which cost $412,329.73; German Chancellor Angela Merkel in June of 2011, which cost $215,883.36; and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in October of 2011, which cost $203,053.34.

To put things in perspective, Singh’s dinner cost just under three times as much as that of President Lee Myung-bak – 2.82 times more, to be exact – and was more than $8,700 more expensive than the dinner held for President Calderon, who came in second. In rupees, Singh’s dinner cost an astonishing Rs. 3.4 crores.

The state dinners also became progressively less expensive as Obama’s administration stayed in the White House, and figures have not yet been released regarding subsequent state dinners, including one in 2012 held for British Prime Minister David Cameron and another held for Francois Hollande, the French President, last night.

The Freedom of Information Act entitles Americans to details such as how much these dinners cost, which is fair considering that it’s their tax money paying for these lavish events. The Obama administration stands to take another PR hit now that it’s been revealed that the President was spending over a half-million dollars entertaining foreign dignitaries in 2009, while the country was still recovering from the immediate aftermath of the credit bubble bursting and was in the nascent days of the recession.

Singh has always enjoyed a health relationship with Washington, with Obama showering the Indian PM with praise and admiration during his brief visit to the US capital last summer. The news that America gave India’s leader the most lavish state dinner will hopefully ease somewhat boiling tensions between the country, especially now that the USITA has launched its public hearings investigating Indian industry.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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