India US Cultural Property Agreement
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- In a recently agreed Cultural Property Agreement between USA and India, both countries agreed to work towards preventing illegal trafficking of cultural artefacts.
- The total of 105 stolen cultural artefacts would be transported to Indian from USA.
- The Indian Consulate in New York hosted the repatriation ceremony and the process to transport antiquities to India would be started soon.
- This agreement was materialised last month during PM Modi’s state visit to the U.S.
- Earlier, during Modi’s visit to U.S., 16 artefacts were handed
- In 2021, 157 such artefacts, belonging to 11th CE to 14th CE, were handed over to India.
- They represented Hinduism (60), Buddhism (16) and Jainism (9)
- Out of rest, 45 belonged to the Before Common Era
- In 2022, a total of 307 antiquities were returned by U.S. valued over $4 million.
Cultural Property Agreement
- It is a tool to prevent illicit trafficking of cultural artefacts.
- It will include a Designated List of archaeological materials which will be used for import restrictions.
- It has an aim to protect cultural heritage and to reduce the incentive for further pillage of archaeological and ethnological material.
- It made not permitted activities unlawful which are associated to excavate, remove, or export cultural objects.
- Once in force this bilateral agreement would impose import restrictions of designated objects into the United States except limited circumstances.
Need for Agreement
- India has lost roughly 10,000 major works of art every decade since the 1950s.
- Between 1992 and 2017, some 4,408 items were allegedly stolen from monuments across India.
- 30-40% of looted Indian art and artefacts are in USA.
Significance of the agreement
- It will strengthen the India and USA relation.
- The coordination between Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies in India and USA will be improved.
- It will help in preservation and protection of cultural and living heritage.
- It will curb the illegal trafficking of such artefacts.
- It will also improve the emotional bond between the two nations.
- It will enhance cooperation on the protection and lawful exchange of cultural property.
- It will help dismantle the smuggling network.
Cultural Importance of these 105 Artifacts
- These artefacts have a widespread geographical origin thus represent the geographical diversity of India. They belong to following regions -
- 47 are from eastern India.
- 27 are from southern India.
- 6 are from Northern India.
- 3 are from western India.
- 22 are from central India.
- They were created during 2nd-3rd century CE to 18th-19th century
- They are made of various materials such as terracotta, stone, metal and wood.
- Around 50 out of 105 artefacts have religious significance.
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India USA relations
Cultural artefacts have a great significance for India’s culture and living heritage hence should be protected from illegal trafficking. Discuss. Also, in light of India-U.S. cultural property agreement, mention how illegal trafficking of such artefacts could be checked. (150 words)