75% of our stolen heritage has been returned to India during the last seven years, informed the Minister of Culture, G Kishan Reddy. He added that bringing the historical objects back to the country is a process to restore India’s pride and an active step to appreciate and acknowledge the historical past of our country.
54 antiquities retrieved from abroad
Since 1976, a total of 54 antiquities have been retrieved from foreign countries. A number of these artefacts were taken by the imperialists during the colonial period, some of them have historical importance.
In 1976, Sawn Stucco Head hailing from Nalanda, Bihar was retrieved from the UK and France. Similarly, in 1991, Terracotta figures from Bhitargaon, Uttar Pradesh was retrieved from the USA.
The Union Culture Minister said that the retrieval of antiquities from abroad has been possible due to the relentless efforts of the Government to improve cultural relations under PM Narendra Modi.
The credit of bringing the antiquities to the country also goes to the Ministry of External Affairs, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), CBI among several others with which the Ministry of Culture is working closely. Further, one of the focuses of India’s foreign policy is the preservation and protection of Indian artefacts and cultural heritage.
A matter of pride, highest returns in last 7 years
G Kishan Reddy said that it is a matter of pride that the country has been able to retrieve many of the stolen heritage objects from abroad. In the last seven years, India has recovered the highest number of antiquities, ever. Since 2014, 41 heritage objects have found their way back to the country. This is more than 75% of the total objects returned.
Two artefacts from Tamil Nadu, Nataraja and Ardhanareeswar were retrieved from Australia in 2014. In 2016, a total of 14 artefacts and antiquities came back home from the USA (11) and Australia (3).
The most recent, Navaneetha Krishna, from South India, has been retrieved from the UK in 2021. Meanwhile, in 2020, Nagaraja (The serpent King) stone sculpture, two Dwarpala, stone sculptures, limestone relief, a stone sculpture of Shiva (Nataraja), metal idols of Rama, Sita, Laxamana were also repatriated to the country.
Return from Australia
The National Gallery of Australia recently announced it would return 14 culturally significant artworks to India which includes sculptures, photographs and a scroll identified as either stolen or of unknown origin. The collection is composed of religious and cultural artefacts, some of which dates back to the 12th century.
A way to preserve
The Ministry is taking several steps to promote its heritage in form of artefacts. In a step to do so, more than 2.8 lakh artefacts of ten Government museums and galleries under the Ministry of Culture has been made available for online access.