The historic return by America of over 200 cultural objects to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington, DC, on June 6 has seen a lot of chest-thumping in the media, but the real men who were instrumental in the return of priceless objects smuggled out of India by notorious art thief Subhash Kapoor, are likely to be forgotten.
Like what happened to when then Australian premier Tony Abott returned the Nataraja and Ardhanarishwara, Or when German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned the Kashmir Tengpura Durga or when Singapore returned the Uma.
Minister for Culture Dr. Mahesh Sharma told Parliament from Independence till 2015, India brought back 24 artefacts in all (see full list here, external link). Of these, seven artefacts were brought back thanks to the efforts of the India Pride Project.
This was the situation highlighted almost as a lament by the CAG report of 2013. But things seem to be finally falling in place with the raids on art dealers in Chennai this week.
The June 6 event in America has changed the game — for they returned not one or two antiquities, but more than a whopping 200. This tweet by the prime minister says it all: ‘My gratitude to the US Govt for the sensitivity shown to India’s heritage. This will evoke great respect among the people of India, I am grateful to President Obama for returning to us these treasures which join us to our past.’