Flashback 2016: Culture Ministry ensures three UNESCO listings for India
New Delhi, Jan 3: 2016 was a mixed bag for the Culture Ministry as three sites made it to the World Heritage List and some stolen antiquities were brought back from abroad while appointment of Nehru Memorial director and government's stand on the Kohinoor issue created controversy.
There was widespread cheer as the 40th session of World Heritage Committee meeting in Istanbul accorded world heritage tag to all the three nominations from India linked to the session -- Chandigarh's Capitol Complex, Sikkim's Khangchendzonga National Park and the ancient university of Nalanda in Bihar. It was the first time that a country got three sites inscribed in the Word Heritage List at a single session of the committee meeting.
The year gone by also witnessed controversy erupting over the appointment of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library's (NMML) director after a prominent member of its Executive Council (EC) Pratap Bhanu Mehta quit allegedly over shortlisting of Shakti Sinha, who reportedly was a director in India Foundation, a think tank aligned to RSS.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US gave momentum to bringing back of 17 antiquities smuggled out of India with eight of them finding its way into country while the remaining are in the process. Three objects, including seated images of Buddha, are also in the process of returning from Australia.
2016 also saw government making a U-turn on the Kohinoor issue saying it will make all efforts to bring back the valued diamond after it had said in the Supreme Court that the diamond was "neither stolen nor forcibly" taken by British rulers, but given to it by erstwhile rulers of Punjab.
Besides reconstitution of the Central Advisory Board on Culture (CABC), the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts (IGNCA) Board was revamped with veteran journalist and former ABVP general secretary Ram Bahadur Rai coming in as its president in place of Chinmaya Gharekhan, a former diplomat who was appointed during the UPA-I rule.
The government also released online 303 declassified files related to Subash Chandra Bose in 2016, a year when assembly elections were held in West Bengal. An intergovernmental committee of the United Nations also inscribed yoga in UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during 2016.