First G20 Working Group (CWG) meeting of Culture

The first G20 Working Group (CWG) meeting of Culture began today at Maharaja Chhatrasal Convention Centre (MCCC), Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh with the Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and DoNER Shri G.K Reddy inaugurating the exhibition titled “Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures”. Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Dr.Virendra Kumar, MoS Culture SmtMeenakashiLekhiwere also present at the occasion. The CWG Meeting is scheduled till 25th February.

Exhibition titled “Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures” on protection and restitution of Cultural property inaugurated
Theme of G20 , Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – One Earth, One Family ,One Future highlights the true spirit of India: Shri G.K Reddy

The exhibition, ‘Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures’ is aimed at showcasing the spirit, need and future of the Repatriation of Cultural Property through select examples of successful return of Cultural Heritage to India and worldwide. The exhibition will reflect upon the concept of Repatriation through the lens of cultural objects, their histories and multitude of stories surrounding their successful return.

Earlier briefing the media Shri G.kReddy said that  protection and restitution of cultural properties will be one of the key focus areas of discussions for the G20 working group meeting of Culture.He also said that over the past 9 years, the government has made all out efforts to repatriate stolen Indian antiquities from abroad . While since independence only 13 stolen antiquities were retrieved, since 2014, 229 antiquities have been brought back which clearly highlights government’s  resolve to bring the cultural pride back to the country.

Briefing media about the importance of G20 Meet under India’s Presidency , the Culture Minister also added that  theme of G20 ,VasudhaivaKutumbakam–One Earth, One Family ,One Future highlights the true spirit of India.

Earlier , the delegates were welcomed at the Khajuraho airport upon arrival with folk performances of Badhai and Rai. Later, they were exposed to traditional arts and cultural experiences. They also participated in DIY activities like papiermache, block painitng, henna art.

The inauguration of ‘Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures’ exhibition was followed by gala dinner for the delegates with cultural performances.

The exhibition ‘Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures‘ has been organised jointly by the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) and National Museum Institute(NMI) and National Museum under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture(MoC), Govt. of India. The exhibition is part of the meetings of the Culture Working Group (CWG) of the G20 being held across India by the Ministry of Culture. One of the most important pieces being displayed in the exhibition is the ‘Parrot Lady’ repatriated to India in 2015 by Canada. It is now housed in the ASI site museum at Khajuraho.

The exhibition portrays around 26 antiquities from across India complimented with photos and visuals of antiquities returned so far to India along with some encouraging examples of repatriation from other parts of the world.So far a total of 242 antiquities from various countries have been repatriated to India. Many others are on the way back.The global efforts made in the direction of repatriating cultural property serves as best examples of cultural and international cooperation among countries. These art and antiquity pieces, the previous victims of illicit trafficking are now being displayed as cultural ambassadors and advocates of Repatriation of Cultural Heritage.

The focus of the exhibition will also be on voicing repatriation stories of objects from across the globe and will chart the journey of objects situating them in socio-cultural context and their subsequent repatriation. The exhibition is conceptualized in six pertinent thematic sections: Cultural Heritage, Repatriation of Cultural Property, Historical Precedents, Conventions and Guiding Principles, Global Cooperation, and Glimpses of the Return.

The conceptual layout of the exhibition takes a visitor through these stories through antiquities from ASI, digital panels, informative text, audio-visual of the other objects repatriated to India and to other countries around the world, holographic display, audio guide, booklet and much more. The exhibition will be available through digital medium as a virtual exhibition for all across the world.

The exhibition hopes to create awareness about the return and restitution of cultural property amongst professionals, practitioners, policy makers and community about the significance of restitution laws & conventions through the display of successful case studies. While initiating a dialogue in the heritage sector about the need, relevance and importance of repatriation of cultural property the exhibition showcases a direct link of Repatriation of Cultural Property with promotion of Cultural Diversity and Sustainability. The effort is aimed towards building consensus to overcome natural and man-made challenges to ensure that cultural resources are genuinely realized as ‘Global Commons’.

The first G20 Working Group (CWG) meeting of Culture will have four working group sessions at the Maharaja Chhatrasal Convention Centre (MCCC), in which G20 member states, international organisations along with officials from the Ministry of Culture will participate. During the course of the duration of the meeting till 25th February, cultural programs have been organised which also the Khajuraho Dance Festival Cultural performances. The delegates will visit the Western Group of Temples, which is a UNCESCO World Heritage Site. They will also be taken to Panna Tiger Reserve.