Next week, the first meeting of the G20 Culture Working Group (CWG) will take place in Khajuraho. The meeting will be about how to protect and return cultural property. There will be more than 125 people at the meeting.
In line with this, there will also be an exhibition of artefacts that have been returned to India from other countries in recent years.
“Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures” is a four-day exhibition of 25 artefacts that have been returned to India after being stolen and smuggled out of the country. On Wednesday, Union Culture Secretary Govind Mohan told reporters in New Delhi that the artefacts had been stolen from India and taken abroad. Officials say that the exhibition will not only tell the story of these 25 returned objects and their cultural backgrounds, but it will also bring attention to restitution laws and conventions and show examples of how they have been used successfully.
The story of these objects will be told through the Parrot Lady, a sandstone sculpture that is 800 years old and was stolen from a Khajuraho temple. In 2015, Canada gave it back to India.
They say that the goal is to cut down on illegal trafficking of cultural property by a lot by 2030. They also want to make sure that online trading platforms and social media are better regulated and raise people’s awareness through educational and social media campaigns.
The G20’s cultural track will focus on four themes: protecting and returning cultural property, using living heritage for a sustainable future, promoting cultural and creative industries and the creative economy, and using digital technologies to protect and promote culture. These will be talked about at the four meetings of the G20 Culture Working Group, which will take place in Khajuraho, Bhubaneshwar, and Hampi. The fourth location hasn’t been chosen yet.
During the three days of talks in Khajuraho, delegates from member countries and guest nations will talk about how the loss of cultural property “due to armed conflicts, colonialism, looting, and illegal trafficking” robs people and communities of a part of their history and identity as well as their right to access and enjoy cultural heritage.
Officials say that, despite efforts at the international level, there are still many problems that make it hard to stop illegal trafficking and return and give back cultural property. The goal is to start a conversation that is open and includes everyone in order to strengthen the ways to stop illegal trafficking and make it easier for cultural property to be returned to its country of origin. The Narendra Modi government has made it a priority to get stolen artefacts and antiques back to India. In the last eight years, about 250 of these items have been returned to India.
Mohan said that the G20 CWG will promote “Culture for LIFE,” which is a campaign for living in a way that is good for the environment and also celebrates the different cultures of the member states.