Antiquities theft – UPSC GS3

National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities (NMMA)

    • launched in 2007
    • Aims to document the antiquities and prepare a national database, which would help in retrieval of smuggled antiquities.
Reasons of India’s Poor Performance in Preservation of its Antiquities:-
    1. Lack of a dedicated Database: No urgency in implementation of NMMA.  It has documented only 80,000 of the 5 lakh monuments targeted
    2. Lack of a dedicated Investigating wing:-¬†Unlike Italy which has a dedicated investigative force named “Carabinieri Art Squad” (most acclaimed in world) we don’t have any such dedicated agency , we have generalists not specialists. For Ex. Special branch of CBI sees these issues which also looks after the cases of the dowry deaths and murders.
    3. Lack of Proper Laws in Place:-Though we have laws but these are too outdated framed in 1972, plus very cumbersome which are not in line with the preservation strategy. Cumbersome process for registration mandated under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act,1972
    4. Political Unwillingness:- Political apathy and unwillingness towards antiquities is a major cause of concern , only a few states have initiative of special forces for preservation but they too are understaffed and unqualified missing proper training and knowledge about the international laws.
    5. Lack of proper understanding of the importance of artefacts’
    6. International laws that are acting as a dragging force in our recovery and preservation of artefacts.
    7. Ignorance of ASI to encroachments upon monuments and lack of excavation activity by ASI
Some Corrective Steps:-
    1. A dedicated Database is the need of the hour.
    2. A dedicated investigating wing with proper training and Qualification and provision of knowledge of the international law.
    3. Mukul Mudgal Panel report recommendations on change of the laws can be implemented.
    4. Increasing awareness and using soft power to incorporate the world view or colonised nations view and form an opinion on recovery of the missing arteacts.
    5. Cooperate with Italy at the bilateral Level to attain the expertise required for being a investigative force.
    6. Establish container scanners on ports to prevent smuggling
    7. Restructure ASI’s way of functioning
    8. Use its negotiating power to call for amendment of the UNESCO Convention, 1970 which does not cover recovery of antiquities stolen prior to 1970



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