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Over 200 stolen artifacts worth Rs 667 crores ($100 million) returned to India by US

Among the artifacts returned to India was a bronze sculpture of Ganesha that is believed to be 1,000 years old

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Indian Sculpture. Image source: dawn.com
  • The artifacts are worth Rs 667, which is $100 million USD
  • Subhash Kapoor, who is believed to be involved in antiquities theft in different nations, now awaits trial in India
  • Apart from the United States, other countries are also returning stolen items to India

On Tuesday, June 7 at a ceremony at the Blair House (Washington), the United States returned over 200 artifacts to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Some of the pieces are nearing 200 years old, and many were stolen from religious sites. Collectively, the pieces are worth Rs 667, which is $100 million USD. The returned items consist of religious statues, bronze and terracottas items.

Among the items stolen was a statue of Saint Manikkavichavakar which represents a Hindu mystic and poet from the Chola period. Saint Manikkavichavakar’s statue was stolen from Chennai’s Sivan Temple. Also among the artifacts was a bronze sculpture of Ganesh. This sculpture is believed to be 1,000 years old.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Usually relationship between the countries of the world are very often covered by the present. It is the present that plays a big role, but sometimes heritage becomes important in the relations of two countries. Sometimes what cannot be done by living persons is done by idols.”

The investigation can be dated back to 2007, when special agents of Homeland Security Investigations received word that seven crates of artifacts were making a trip to America. This shipment was coordinated by Subhash Kapoor, owner of New York’s Art of the Past Gallery. Kapoor now awaits trial in India along with five other people who were arrested in connection to this case.

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Due to this these events both the governments and law enforcements are more acutely aware of the artifact trafficking that goes on across borders. They are not only working to end the transferring of artifacts, but they aim to return the items back to where they belong.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia Commons.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia Commons.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson had some words of wisdom, but was not able to attend the ceremony of returning the artifacts. He stated, “Protecting the cultural heritage of our global community is important work and we are committed to identifying and returning these priceless items to their countries of origin and rightful owners.”

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The United States is not the only country returning stolen items. Over the past two years many countries have set out to return items that are rightfully India’s. The Prime minister also went on to say, “For some, these artifacts may be measured in monetary terms and could be in millions for them, but for the people of India, it is a part of our culture and heritage that joins us to our past, that joins us to our values.”

Tourists who travel thousand miles to come to India are not only interested in visiting modern sites but are also interested in rich culture and history that a place offers. The artifacts that speak to these attributes have begun their trip home. US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch says, “It is my hope – and the hope of the American people – that this repatriation will serve as a sign of our great respects for India’s culture; our deep admiration for its people; and our sincere appreciation for the ties between our nations.”

-by Abigail Andrea, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @abby_kono

ALSO READ:

  • Shubhi Mangla

    So finally India is making efforts to revive its culture.These artifacts are of utmost importance to our heritage

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    These artifacts are have cultural and historical importance in our country. These should be saved in order to remember our art and culture

  • devika todi

    the governments all over the world should work to preserve the culture of their respective countries. artifact trafficking it a serious issue, as it robs a country of its culture. this matter should be looked into seriously.

  • Paras Vashisth

    Worth of anything doesn’t matter,
    The fact is- what is the importance of that thing.
    And in case of unique artifacts it reflects history,culture and all aspects of our forefathers.

SHARE
  • Shubhi Mangla

    So finally India is making efforts to revive its culture.These artifacts are of utmost importance to our heritage

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    These artifacts are have cultural and historical importance in our country. These should be saved in order to remember our art and culture

  • devika todi

    the governments all over the world should work to preserve the culture of their respective countries. artifact trafficking it a serious issue, as it robs a country of its culture. this matter should be looked into seriously.

  • Paras Vashisth

    Worth of anything doesn’t matter,
    The fact is- what is the importance of that thing.
    And in case of unique artifacts it reflects history,culture and all aspects of our forefathers.

Next Story

Amid Intensifying US China Trade Dispute, Indian Exporters Eye Gains

Orient Craft’s new unit in Jharkhand, one of India’s least developed states, will employ about eight thousand workers

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US, China, Trade Dispute, Indian Exporters
Orient Craft, one of India's largest apparel exporters, says it could benefit from increased business as the US-China trade war intensifies. This building in Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi houses its office and one of its garment units. VOA

As work on establishing a massive garment-manufacturing unit by one of India’s leading apparel exporters enters the final stages, the company is optimistic about keeping the machines humming. Slated to begin production in August, Orient Craft’s new unit in Jharkhand, one of India’s least developed states, will employ about eight thousand workers.

Inquiries from buyers in the United States, its biggest market, have increased in recent months as a trade dispute with China intensifies, according to A.K. Jain, who heads the Commercial department at Orient Craft. That is why he is upbeat about generating new business. “This is an unbelievable blessing in disguise,” he says. “It will give us an edge.”

Exporters in India are reaping the benefits of the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies as business with both countries jumps, according to Ajai Sahai, who heads the Federation of Indian Export Organizations.

“While overall exports have gone up by nine percent, exports to the U.S. have gone up by 13 percent and to China by 32 percent,” he says. And as the confrontation escalated last week after the two countries failed to reach a deal, his optimism increased. “Since the tariff hike is now substantial from 10 to 25 percent we feel we will have more advantage in market access.”

US, China, Trade Dispute, Indian Exporters
A slowdown in the Indian economy is being attributed to a drop in consumption by an affluent middle class. VOA

India is among a handful of countries set to benefit from the U.S.-China trade dispute, a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development stated in February. “The saying ‘it’s good to fish in troubled waters’ could apply to some bystander nations,” the report said, pointing out that most of the Chinese exports subject to U.S. tariffs will be captured by firms in third countries.

While China has opened its doors wider to a range of agricultural products from India such as rice and sugar, exports to the United States have increased in areas such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, jewelry, auto components and apparel.

“In various products we were losing out to China with a very narrow margin. With the hike, we are able to offset that,” says Sahai. “That is why the tariff war has presented us an opportunity to enter markets in the U.S. in some areas we were hardly penetrating.”

But even as Indian exports benefit, trade experts warn that clouds are also gathering over New Delhi’s trade relationship with Washington. In recent months, U.S. President Donald Trump has slammed Indian duties on some U.S. goods, saying that India is not providing “equitable and reasonable access” to its markets.

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Economists also warn that an eventual slowdown in global trade due to the U.S.-China trade spat will hit all countries including India, which is already staring at an economic slowdown

Growth in the world’s fastest growing major economy flagged to 6.6 percent in the last quarter of 2018 – it’s lowest in more than a year. It is not expected to fare much better this year.

The slump is blamed on slackening domestic consumption, which powers the Indian economy. Unlike East Asian countries, which have raced ahead on the back of exports, growth momentum in India is largely based on an affluent middle class snapping up goods such as cars, refrigerators, air conditioners and other consumer goods.

But there are concerns as automobile sales, the barometer of consumption, plunged to the lowest in nearly eight years in recent months.

US, China, Trade Dispute, Indian Exporters
Like other carmakers, the Hyundai showroom in Gurgaon has witnessed a decline in sales of cars in recent months. VOA

At the Hyundai car showroom in the upscale business hub of Gurgaon, near Delhi, a range of swanky models beckon customers, but there are few to be seen. This is in marked contrast to the last three years when buoyant automobile sales helped India overtake Germany to become the world’s fourth largest automobile market. That prompted car makers such as Hyundai, Honda and Toyota to expand their presence in the country.

“In recent years, March and April used to be good months. But now 20 to 30 percent drop is there in these months also,” says Gagan Arora, business head at the Hyundai showroom. “There is a slowdown in the whole industry. New buyers are not being added so frequently.”

Economists say while rising exports to the United States and China present a silver lining, the first challenge facing India’s new government due to take office after vote counting in elections is completed this week, will be how to restore overall momentum to the economy and see why consumers are not so willing to open their wallets. (VOA)