And even if they do, there is then the anti-national, anti-Hindu and pro-minority media and politicians to overcome. Thus, Ram Janmabhoomi and Ayodhya temple is overshadowed by Babri Masjid and its demolition and Tejo Mahalaya remians the Taj Mahal.
An India which wishes to be severed from her cultural and civilizational roots and prefers to be glorified by the reflections of her invaders will, knowingly or unknowingly, squander away all its wealth, both material and spiritual.
Only a India proud of her heritage will be able to protect it.
Rhys Blakely in Mumbai
The custodians of India’s archaeological treasures are to hire 10,000 attendants to patrol historical sites after an audit found that 34 monuments, including a cave temple, had “disappeared”.
Questions tabled in the Rajya Sabha, the Indian equivalent of the House of Lords, showed that several protected heritage sites had been buried under illegally constructed buildings. Others had been submerged by reservoirs or looted by art thieves. Officials admitted that the whereabouts of some had simply been forgotten because of poor record keeping.
“Most of these sites were declared protected under the British,” Ashok Kumar Sinha, the head archaeologist of the Archaeological Society of India (ASI), the body responsible for protecting monuments, said. “But the original notifications did not detail their exact locations. Many are missing.”
The monuments that the Indian Ministry of Tourism and Culture admitted were untraceable included several sites from the days of the Raj, including a tomb in Kishanganj in Delhi that housed the remains of Britons killed in the Indian Mutiny of 1857. In the northeastern state of Assam, weapons belonging to the 16th-century Afghan conqueror Emperor Sher Shah are missing.
In Aruna-chal Pradesh, close to the border with China, the ruins of an ancient copper-plated temple dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Shiva could not be accounted for.
A complex of ancient cave temples in the northern town of Basohli, which had yielded artefacts dating back as far as the 10th century, has also been lost.
The catalogue of untraceable monuments supplied by the ministry may indicate a cavalier attitude to record keeping. It lists as missing a statue of Brigadier-General John Nicholson, an army officer for the British East India Company who led the charge on Delhi in 1857, a mission on which he was killed. A statue of Nicholson was erected at the Kashmiri Gate in north Delhi by the British but was taken down when India became independent. The ministry said that it did not know where it was. However, it was taken to Nicholson’s school, the Royal School Dungannon, in Northern Ireland.
Mr Sinha insisted that the ASI was getting on top of the situation, but other experts were not convinced.
Professor Nalini Thakur, the head of architectural conservation at the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi, said that the planned army of attendants risked antagonising residents, many of whom had lived near, or even in, monuments for generations.
Looting of small, valuable items that fell outside the purview of the ASI was a problem, according to Shashi Misra, the chairman of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. “Huge numbers of idols and statues are disappearing and are being sold on the international art market,” he said.
Experts said that events such as the earthquake that hit the western state of Gujarat in 2001 had attracted dealers. After the quake, which destroyed an estimated 400,000 homes, antiques traders stripped houses of their ornate doors.
In Chandigarh in recent years, foreign dealers have been buying the furniture used by the city’s civil servants.
Much of the furniture was designed by the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, who played a role in designing Chandigarh, and can fetch thousands of pounds on the international market.
“Too much of India’s heritage is being transported out of the country and nobody is taking notice,” said Mr Misra.
In the 1990s the National Museum in Kabul was looted after bombing. About 90 per cent of the exhibits were removed and most have not been recovered
The palace of the Assyrian King Sennacherib in Iraq was uncovered by archaeologists in 1847. It was decorated with carved stone slabs describing the exploits of his army. Over time these were removed and since the 1990s the reliefs have been appearing for sale in the West
The Kanakaria mosaic once decorated the ceiling of the 6th century church of the Panagia Kanakaria in Cyprus. It was regarded as one of the finest examples of early Christian art in the world In the 1970s looters hacked the mosaic from the church, figure by figure, and smuggled the pieces off the island. Two fragments were recovered in 1984 but nothing was heard of the others until 1988 when an American art dealer paid $1 million in cash for four more
Source: The Illicit Antiquities Research Centre, Unesco