Prof Makarand R. ParanjapeOnly a dozen heritage objects came back between 1947 and 2014, but since 2014, over 27 have returned. This figure may be minuscule, but its symbolic value is immeasurable, perhaps more important than the heritage items recovered. – Prof Makarand Paranjape

Years ago, I was stunned to see a beautiful 17th century Ganesha on display at a famous museum in the US with kumkum and chandan (vermillion and sandalwood) clearly visible marks on it.

I mentioned this to one of the curators, pointing out how a statue so recently worshipped was likely to be illegally acquired, if not stolen.

Thankfully, in their zeal to maintain authenticity, both the traffickers and the curators had preserved the tell-tale signs of its possible theft.

The curator shrugged and said, “We can’t say; all I know is that we bid and paid for it.”

Restoring heritage

That used to be the fate of many an Indian…

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