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G20 Culture Working Group Meeting Begins at MCCC, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

The first G20 Working Group (CWG) meeting of Culture began at Maharaja Chhatrasal Convention Centre (MCCC), Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh with the Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and DoNER G.K Reddy inaugurating the exhibition titled "Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures".

Shivam Dwivedi
Global efforts to repatriate cultural property serve as excellent examples of cultural & international cooperation among countries
Global efforts to repatriate cultural property serve as excellent examples of cultural & international cooperation among countries

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Dr. Virendra Kumar, and Minister of Culture Meenakshi Lekhi were also present. The CWG Meeting is scheduled to last until February 25th.

The exhibition 'Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures' aims to demonstrate the spirit, need, and future of cultural property repatriation through selected examples of successful cultural heritage returns to India and around the world. The exhibition will examine the concept of repatriation through the lens of cultural objects, their histories, and the many stories that surround their successful return. Earlier, GK Reddy told the media that one of the key focus areas of discussions for the G20 working group meeting on Culture will be the protection and restitution of cultural properties.

He also stated that the government has made every effort over the last 9 years to repatriate stolen Indian antiquities from abroad. While only 13 stolen antiquities have been recovered since independence, 229 antiquities have been returned since 2014, demonstrating the government's determination to restore cultural pride to the country.

Briefing the media on the significance of the G20 Meeting under India's Presidency, the Culture Minister also stated that the G20 theme, 'VasudhaivaKutumbakam-One Earth, One Family, One Future'- highlights India's true spirit. Previously, the delegates were greeted at the Khajuraho airport with folk performances by Badhai and Rai. They were later introduced to traditional arts and cultural experiences. They also took part in DIY activities such as papiermache, block painting, and henna art. The opening of the exhibition 'Re(ad)dress: Return of Treasures' was followed by a gala dinner for delegates featuring cultural performances.

The exhibition was organised in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), National Museum Institute (NMI), and National Museum under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture (MoC), Government of India. The exhibition is part of the Ministry of Culture's G20 Culture Working Group (CWG) meetings, which are being held across India. The 'Parrot Lady,' one of the most important pieces on display in the exhibition, was repatriated to India by Canada in 2015. It is now on display at the ASI site museum in Khajuraho.

The exhibition features approximately 26 antiquities from across India, as well as photos and visuals of antiquities returned to India thus far, as well as some encouraging examples of repatriation from other parts of the world.

A total of 242 antiquities from various countries have been returned to India so far. Many more are on their way back. Global efforts to repatriate cultural property serve as excellent examples of cultural and international cooperation among countries. These art and antiquity pieces, which were previously victims of illicit trafficking, are now on display as cultural ambassadors and advocates for cultural heritage repatriation. The exhibition will also highlight repatriation stories from around the world, charting the journey of objects, situating them in socio-cultural contexts, and their subsequent repatriation.

Cultural Heritage, Repatriation of Cultural Property, Historical Precedents, Conventions and Guiding Principles, Global Cooperation, and Glimpses of the Return are the six relevant thematic sections of the exhibition. The exhibition's conceptual layout guides visitors through these stories using ASI antiquities, digital panels, informative text, audio-visual of other objects repatriated to India and other countries around the world, holographic display, audio guide, booklet, and much more. The exhibition will be available digitally as a virtual exhibition for people all over the world.

Through the display of successful case studies, the exhibition hopes to raise awareness among professionals, practitioners, policymakers, and the general public about the importance of restitution laws and conventions. While launching a dialogue in the heritage sector about the need, relevance, and importance of cultural property repatriation, the exhibition demonstrates a direct link between cultural property repatriation and the promotion of cultural diversity and sustainability. The effort is aimed towards building consensus to overcome natural and man-made obstacles to make sure that cultural resources are genuinely realized as 'Global Commons'.

The first G20 Working Group (CWG) meeting on Culture will have four working group sessions at the Maharaja Chhatrasal Convention Centre (MCCC), with participation from G20 member states, international organisations, and Ministry of Culture officials. Cultural programmes, including Khajuraho Dance Festival cultural performances, have been organised throughout the meeting's duration until the 25th of February. The delegates will pay a visit to the Western Group of Temples, a UNCESCO World Heritage Site. They will also be transported to the Panna Tiger Reserve.

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