New Delhi: Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Culture & Tourism attended a special event at National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra, Australia today in which Senator Mitch Fifield formally handed over three ancient artefacts stolen and smuggled out of India and inadvertently acquired by National Gallery of Australia. The returned artefacts are Seated Buddha, Goddess Pratyangira and Worshippers of Buddha. A brief background note on these artefacts are enclosed. Earlier, during the visit of Australian Prime Minister to India in September 2014 the Australian government had also returned statue of ‘Dancing Siva’.
Receiving the artefacts, Dr. Mahesh Sharma stated, “Our sincere thanks to Government of Australia and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Mitch Fifield and the National Gallery of Australia for the gesture of returning these three antiquities, which will carry a big message of the relations between two countries”.
Speaking on the occasion Minister Mitch Fifield stated, “This is the ethical demonstration of National Gallery of Australia.” He added, “This process in which Indian and Australian governments are working together is a testimony of quality and health of the bilateral relations”. Indian High Commissioner Mr. Navdeep Suri and top officials of National Gallery of Australia attended the event.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma also met Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Mr. Keith Pitt MP later in the afternoon and discussed various bilateral issues of mutual interest.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma is paying an official visit to Australia from September 18 to September 20, 2016. On September 18, he attended an event in connection with ‘Confluence-the Festival of India’ at the iconic Sydney Opera House. Dr Sharma had a series of bilateral engagements in Canberra on September 19. He met Minster of Communications and Arts Senator Mitch Fifield and discussed various bilateral matters pertaining to cooperation in the areas of art, culture and people to people contact. He also thanked the Department of Arts for its strong support to the Festival of India. This has made the Festival a true Indo-Australian festival. Dr Sharma said.