India is a country that is steeped in culture and heritage. From head to toe, it is dotted with historical landmarks of cultural significance that boast of the erstwhile glory associated with them.
However, over the years a lot of sculptures, paintings, manuscripts and objects of immense historical significance, indigenous to India, have been lost. Lost, not in the conventional sense, but have been looted and stolen.
These objects now grace the shelves of international museums across the globe by adding an ‘exotic’ & ‘oriental’ element to their repertoire.
The Indian Pride Project is a team of heritage enthusiasts who have collaborated to bring back these objects to India.
WHAT IS THE INDIAN PRIDE PROJECT?
The brainchild of Singapore based Anurag Saxena, The Indian Pride Project is essentially a team of a few people which aims to bring back stolen objects that are part of India’s heritage back to the country.
The IPP team is heterogeneous and has people coming from all walks of life. Bankers, journalists, historians, artists etc. The core team has 11 members and is spread across the globe.
Apart from the core team, there are volunteers associated with the IPP, worldwide. All these people have other full-time jobs and do this out of passion.
HOW DOES THE IPP WORK?
The Project is primarily social media driven. The team and volunteers have to be constantly aware of their surroundings. Every time someone spots an object which they think might belong to India, they click a picture of it.
It is then posted on various kinds of social media platforms, predominantly Twitter and experts and regular people help in identifying the object. Part of the job is also that they have to prove that the object has been stolen through evidence like forged paperwork and false documents.
Once this is done, various methods like negotiations, mutually beneficial deals, and firm retorts are used to bring back the objects.
The team also has people working with law and order agencies to ensure proper transactions.
WHAT ALL OBJECTS HAVE BEEN RECOVERED BY THE TEAM?
Amongst the 17,000 art pieces that have been stolen (approximately), the team was able to identify around 2000. They have brought back five, so far.
One of the most treasured sculptures which was brought back was the Bronze sculpture of Nataraja from the Brihadeshwara temple of Tamil Nadu.
The sculpture was allegedly stolen in 2006 and was sold to the Australian government by the authorities at London.
It was Vijay Kumar, an avid blogger and member of the team who spotted the sculpture. He then collected evidence to prove that it was stolen and ultimately after involving the Australian press, the sculpture was brought back to India and was handed over by Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister to Narendra Modi.
Among the other objects that have been recovered are a Bronze Ganesha, Vriddhachalam Shiva Ardhanari, Sandstone Yakshi and Uma Parameshwari.
THE FUTURE OF THE IPP
The team aims to expand its network and bring back all the stolen objects to restore them to their former glory and piety. They, however, feel that the Indian government lacks initiative in the process and should spread awareness on the lost heritage.
The team feels that the objects which are brought back, should go back to the communities they were taken away from, instead of being kept in the government warehouses.
It is extremely important for India to acknowledge the fact that it has such a rich cultural heritage, a lot of which has been taken away from it. Everything to bring back this lost glory should be done by helping the Indian Pride Project.
Image Source: Google Images
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