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Australia to return 1,800- year-old stolen Buddha statue to India

NGA director Gerard Vaughan told News Corp on Friday that the sculpture would likely be returned to Indian government officials when they visit Australia for an Indian cultural festival in September.

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Lord Buddha statue. Image Source: www.travelweekly-asia.com
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  • The second-century statue stands at 1.3 metres tall and was purchased from Asian art specialist Nancy Wiener by billionaire Ros Packer, on behalf of the NGA, in 2007
  • The condition of the statue was so good that it was initially thought to be a fake
  • The NGA would be reviewing all 5,000 Asian antiquities in its collection due to the “culture” of failing to adequately check the background of its dealers

CANBERRA: A 1,800-year-old Buddha statue which was displayed in the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) is being prepared for its return to India, after it was found to have been purchased from an illegal antiquity trafficker, authorities said on Friday, July 22.

Stollen Buddha Statue at National Gallery of Australia. Image Source: www.theaustralian.com.au
Stolen Buddha Statue at National Gallery of Australia. Image Source: www.theaustralian.com.au

The second-century statue stands at 1.3 metres tall, and was purchased from Asian art specialist Nancy Wiener by billionaire Ros Packer, on behalf of the NGA, in 2007, Xinhua news agency reported.

However, documents revealed that NGA staff simply accepted Wiener’s story of how she came to be in possession of the antiquity, unaware that it was in fact stolen from an archaeological site in Mathura, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

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NGA director Gerard Vaughan told News Corp on Friday that the sculpture would likely be returned to Indian government officials when they visit Australia for an Indian cultural festival in September.

“There is a high-level delegation coming in September so we’re investigating whether that will be the moment of handover,” Vaughan said.

Dr. Gerard Vaughan, Director of NGA. Image Source: http://nga.gov.au/
Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director of NGA. Image Source: http://nga.gov.au/

“Or (we) simply come to an agreement with India, because it is no longer our property, whether it can just be sent back to India. “

The condition of the statue was so good that it was initially thought to be a fake, though when experts from the Archaeological Survey of India examined the piece, it was revealed to be genuine.

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“One of the reasons was because it’s of great age and was in very good condition. Good condition can denote a fake,” Vaughan said.

“It was good for them to come back to us and say it was authentic and certainly something that should be returned to India, ” he said.

5,000 Asian antiquities to be showcased in NGA. Image Source: camd.org.au
5,000 Asian antiquities to be showcased in NGA. Image Source: camd.org.au

According to Vaughan, the NGA would be reviewing all 5,000 Asian antiquities in its collection due to the “culture” of failing to adequately check the background of its dealers.

The news follows the arrest last month of one of the gallery’s main suppliers, Subhash Kapoor, who was charged with illegal trafficking of antiquities. (IANS)

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All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border.

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Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • The Chabahar Port is of great strategic importance for India
  • It is in Iran and is being built and operated by India
  • This port will increase India’s trade with Central Asia and Europe

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border. Chabahar is the trans-shipment and logistics hub for the Makran Coast and Baluchistan province of Iran.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The tension between India and Pakistan is nothing new. There are several instances where both the countries have tried to obstruct each other’s political or economic agendas. This obstruction, along with other strategic reasons, resulted in the India and Iran’s deal on the Chabahar Port, which is crucial because of several reasons.

Here are few things about it you may not have known before :

  • Under the Trilateral Transit and Transport Agreement of 2016, the Chabahar port is the gateway to the Transport Corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan, which allows multi-modal goods’ and passengers’ transport.

Also Read: India and Iran sign agreement to develop Chabahar Port

  • The agreement also states that India will develop and operate two berths in the first phase of the port. The contract is for 10 years and extendable. This time period excludes the first two years as they will be used for construction.
Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port’s first phase, which was developed by India, and inaugurated by Iran on 4th December 2017, is of great strategic importance as it makes it easier for India to conduct trade with Central Asia and Europe.
  • Iran’s Chabahar port is also important for India’s trade because of Pakistan’s reluctance in allowing India to send goods to Iran and Afghanistan through its land territory.

Also Read: Gwadar Port: China Turning Pakistan Port Into Regional Giant 

  • The development of Chabahar Port will increase the momentum of the International North-South Transport Corridor whose signatories include India, Afghanistan and Russia. Iran is the key gateway in this project. It will improve India’s trade with Central Asia as well as Europe.
    The Chabahar Port has also reduced Afghanistan’s dependence on the transit road, which went through Karachi. Now, trade can be conducted via Chabahar Port too. Islamabad has accused India of trying to use this development as a means to destabilise Pakistan.

    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port also acts as a counter to the barely 100 km away, Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is developed by China. However, Iran has defended that Chabahar is not a rival to Gwadar and Pakistan is invited to join in its development.
  • In October 2017, India sent its first shipment of wheat to through Chabahar to Afghanistan, in order to test the viability of the route.
  • India will also construct a 900-km Chabahar-Zahedan-hajigak railway line that will connect Port of Chabahar to Hajigak in Afghanistan. It will also connect Mashad in the north, providing access to Turkmenistan as well as northern Afghanistan.This project is worth $1.6 billion.

    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehrain. Wikimedia Commons
    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehran. Wikimedia Commons
  • It is being said that India will supply $400 million of steel rails to Tehran. There are also possibilities of setting up a fertilizer plant through a joint venture with the Iranian government.