We sat down with Anuraag Saxena of the India Pride Project (IPP) to understand how the loot and destruction of Indic heritage can be stopped.
Are India’s civilisational symbols under attack?
UNESCO estimates 50,000 artifacts have been stolen from India. Murtis (idols) of Vishnu, Durga, Saraswati and Ganesha are permanent fixtures at art auctions abroad. Murtis that can’t be looted are vandalised or destroyed.
How have agencies responded so far?
CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) reported in 2013 that the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) has been “completely ineffective” and “had not been able to achieve any success” in bringing back looted heritage.
But we don’t need UNESCO and CAG to tell us that. We have all seen India’s temple heritage being ignored, vandalised, looted and destroyed, right before our eyes.
Was despondence the genesis of India Pride Project?
Our origins lie in a very simple belief – Dharmo Rakshati Rakshatah (Dharma protects the protector of Dharma). Don’t expect someone else to care about your problem more than you do.
With zero funding, zero employees and zero authority, IPP has built the case globally for India’s heritage to come back to its people.
There must be some resistance to this, right?
Yes, of course. Deep state and bureaucratic lethargy are real. Countries have offered back heritage that our officials are yet to bring back.
Even the ‘narrative setters’ are interested in academics, not activists. I joke about this – if I were to publish about temples, I’ll be felicitated at conferences. If I protect temples, I won’t even be invited.
And then there’s our blessed media. On the one hand international media, even foreign government publications, have commended our work but India’s mainstream media has blacked us out.
So what is next for IPP?
Oh, the journey has just started. IPP is much bigger than any one individual. We are building partnerships and collaborations as we speak. In time, you will see us becoming a platform for every Indian, who cares about reclaiming our lost pride.