Treasure trove: US to return 150 artefacts to India in six months

The 150 artefacts that will be returned by the US also include some from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  10 July 2023 6:02 AM GMT
US to return 150 artefacts to India in six months.

Representational Image. 

Hampi: United States will return about 150 artifacts to India in the next six months.

Ahead of the third G20 Culture Working Group (CWC) meeting, Culture Ministry Secretary Govind Mohan said India has discussed the 1970 convention extensively with all the countries.

The theme of the first G20 Culture Working Group meeting was the protection and restitution of cultural property.

"We are trying to develop a broad consensus that all these G20 countries should at least become signatories to the convention and certainly, India would be a big gainer from this process," he said.

The 1970 Convention urges the parties to take measures to prohibit and prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural property. The convention relates to Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

Mohan said bilaterally also, India is working with countries like the United States.

"If you have seen the joint statement of the prime minister's visit to the United States recently, there is a mention of a cultural property agreement between India and the United States, where the United States will do everything within the government's power to intercept smuggled goods at the borders and return them expeditiously," he said.

50% of arte facts gone since independence

"We expect to get about 150 such artifacts from the United States over the next three to six months, which would be more than 50 percent of all the artifacts that have been returned to India since independence," he added.

Responding to a question, Mohan said the issue of restitution of cultural property, both bilaterally as well as through G20, is gaining traction.

"We are happy to report that we will have some consensus, some broad-based agreement on how this whole process has to be taken forward," he said.

He said India is holding bilateral talks with other countries too in the matter.

"We are trying very hard to convince the United Kingdom to have this kind of understanding with us. We will now also broach this with countries like France, Italy, and Australia, where we will try to bring back the artifacts displayed in their museums that have gone from India over the last several years," Mohan said.

He said the matter is being pursued both bilaterally and multilaterally.

"Our diligent efforts have finally taken us to a place where this whole thing has become part of the language of the prime minister's joint statement. We are not there yet concerning the other countries. But with the US having accepted this kind of a framework, we are hopeful that other countries will also look at something similar, if not identical," he said.

Artefacts from New York Met

The 150 artifacts that will be returned by the US also include some from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) is willing to return 15 artifacts in the first slot. Some have been confiscated by the US authorities and they are lying with the New York Attorney General's Office.

"We are making efforts to have our team go there, verify them, and bring them back," said Mohan.

"This is very important for a country like India. You are also aware that there is a 1970 convention of UNESCO which enjoins upon all the signatory parties to voluntarily return those artefacts belonging to other countries, which have either been taken down because of colonial plunder or because of post-colonial misappropriation through smuggling and theft and other such means," Mohan said.

Inputs from PTI

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