Twenty-three repatriated Indian antiquities will be exhibited and each of their stories told to G-20 delegates at Khajuraho as part of efforts to strengthen the mechanism to prevent illicit trafficking in antiquities, and facilitate the return and restitution of such treasured artefacts. The stories will be narrated in a virtual reality mode by none other than the 900-year-old ‘Parrot Lady’ of Khajuraho — the sandstone sculpture of a woman holding a parrot which was brought back to India from Canada in 2017.
The exhibition titled “Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures” to be held at the Maharaja Chhatrasal Convention Centre in Khajuraho will be inaugurated by Union Culture Minister G. Kishan Reddy and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan.
This is an effort to bring focus on the need for ‘Protection and Restitution of Cultural Property’, the theme of the first G-20 Cultural Working Group meeting to be held in Khajuraho from February 22-25, a senior official of the Culture Ministry said.
“The idea is to avoid loss of cultural heritage due to conflict and illicit trafficking, facilitate alternate dispute resolution, and develop capacity-building mechanisms like museums for their preservation and upkeep,” she said.
The themes for the next two working group meetings to be held in Bhubaneswar and Hampi will be ‘Harnessing Living Heritage for a Sustainable Future’ and ‘Promotion of Cultural and Creative Industries and Creative Economy’.
The destination for the fourth and last working group meeting has not been finalised yet. It will have the theme of ‘Leveraging Digital Technologies for Protection and Promotion of Culture’.
Apart from this, India has also reached out to all the G-20 member states to nominate one artefact from each of them showcasing their culture for an exhibition, a culmination of India’s year-old G-20 Presidency.
“We have requested the countries to nominate a national artefact. They can also send an exact replica of the same or a digital version,” Culture Secretary Govind Mohan said.
He said that one round of discussion has already been carried out with the Ambassadors of these countries, and if needed, “we will enter into MoUs (Memorandums of Understanding) with all these countries”.
“We are trying to make this exhibition a legacy document in the digital format, while the physical exhibit will take place in Delhi,” Mr. Mohan said.
He said that India’s G-20 ‘Culture Track’ is predicated on ‘Culture for LiFE’, an environmentally conscious lifestyle as a campaign for sustainable living.