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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

Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

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VOA
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. Pixabay

For people streaming in from rural areas around New Delhi, the first stop is a collection of busy city intersections where contractors select daily wage labor from the crowds of young and old waiting every morning to get work.

Many standing at these intersections say they get work for barely half the month. “I have the ability to work hard. I never turn down any work. But I would prefer to get a cleaner, permanent job,” says 29-year-old Tek Chand. “The problem is one day I have money to buy rations, the next day I don’t.” Like millions of others, he migrated from his village three years ago to seek work and a better life in the city.

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019. VOA
As India prepares for general elections on April 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being attacked by opposition parties for failing to make good on a promise he made in 2014 to create millions of jobs for India’s huge young population. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party rebuts that criticism and says India is generating new opportunities as it becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies.

Job creation is a massive challenge for a nation with one of the world’s youngest populations — half the country’s 1.3 billion people are under the age of 25.

Recent data shows that joblessness has soared to record high levels. Opposition parties have made joblessness one of their principal election planks and have accused the prime minister of failing the estimated 8 to 10 million young people who enter the workforce every year.

The independent Mumbai-based Center for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that unemployment reached 7.2 percent last month and that 11 million jobs were lost in 2018. With a working population of 500 million, that translates into more than 30 million people waiting for jobs. An unpublished official survey that showed unemployment at a 45-year-high has also been widely quoted by Indian media.

India's main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019.
India’s main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019. VOA

On the campaign trail, the head of the main opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as Modi’s principal challenger, talks repeatedly about a “jobs crisis.”

“Our government is refusing to accept that we have a massive crisis and potential disaster in front of us,” Gandhi told a group of university students in New Delhi recently, many who will be first time voters.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. It points to a recent industry report that jobs have been created in the medium and small sectors.

The BJP says millions of people have found work in the transport and infrastructure sectors or as delivery boys in booming online businesses as India becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. They point out that the issue is not jobs but livelihoods, and point to millions of people who are not counted in job data.

They are self-employed people like cab owner Chain Pal Singh. As the app based taxi business boomed, Singh’s friend, who operated a cab, persuaded him to quit his job and take out a loan to buy a car. His decision has paid off — in four years he has earned enough money to invest in two more cabs.

Singh says he is much better off than when he held a job. “I used to earn about $225 dollars a month. Now in some months I can earn almost double that amount. Its beneficial for me.”

Following defeats in key state elections in December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told parliament last month, “This truth has to be acknowledged. The unorganized sector has 80 to 85 percent of the employment.” He pointed to millions of commercial vehicles sold in recent years and questioned if they had not generated jobs for drivers.

Economists admit India’s large informal sector has made it difficult to calculate employment, but they say joblessness or underemployment remains the country’s biggest challenge. While scarcity of jobs is not a new problem, two disruptive economic steps in the last two years exacerbated the problem.

In 2016 a sweeping currency ban meant to tackle the problem of illegal cash, dried up jobs as it created huge currency shortages, particularly in small businesses and in the countryside. A poorly-implemented tax reform known as the Goods and Services Tax a few months later was another blow to businesses.

Meanwhile, Modi’s “Made in India” campaign, which aimed at making India a manufacturing hub like China, has made a slow start and sluggish labor-intensive sectors cannot cater to growing numbers of job seekers.

“We can’t keep patting ourselves on the back that we are the fastest growing economy specially if all these other indicators are not growing at a rate that will absorb the growing labor force,” says Santosh Mehrotra, a human development economist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

Also Read: The Mental Health ‘Epidemic’: About Six in Ten Teen Say, They Feel A Lot Of Pressure To Get Good Grades

He points out that exports, another sector that created a number of jobs has also not been performing well.

As the campaign heats up, the opposition will try to keep the spotlight on jobs, or lack of them, even as the BJP tries to focus on national security following a recent confrontation with Pakistan. The final verdict on whether to give Prime Minister Modi a second term in office will be delivered by millions of voters when they cast their ballots. (VOA)