T H E H E A R T B E A T O F T H E I N D I A N C O M M U N I T Y
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
JANUARY 27, 2017
Indian PM has to manage the impact
of demonetisation and overcome the
impression that his govt has not really
delivered on the transformation
promised during election time
REPORTS ON PAGES 4 TO 9
100 Model Career Centres
planned for job seekers
ONE hundred Model Career Cen-
tres across India will be launched
to increase employment avenues
for job seekers.
Minister of state (independent
charge) for labour and employ-
ment Bandaru Dattatreya said the
centres will be built at a cost of
Rs350 crores. The candidates will
be provided with counselling and
assessment, soft skills training,
technical up skilling and place-
51 specially-abled and poor
couples tie knot at mass
FIFTY-ONE specially-abled and
poor couples got married at a
mass marriage ceremony in Delhi
on Jan 22. Narayan Seva Sansthan
— a charitable organisation —
organised the ceremony for them
at Janmashtami Park in Punjabi
Bagh “as a sign of solidarity to-
wards the community”.
A press release by the organisa-
tion said: “Families of the brides
and grooms were treated with
warmth as the marriages were
performed with pomp and gaiety.
Necessary household items were
also distributed among the pre-
destined brides and bridegrooms
at the time of ‘kanyadaan’ (giving
away the bride).”
Kalimpong to be a new district
WEST Bengal chief minister
Mamata Banerjee has announced
that Kalimpong, the hill station
that falls under Darjeeling district,
will soon become a separate dis-
trict on its own.
She said Mirik in the same
district will be upgraded to a
sub-division, while an educational
hub will be built in the other hill
station Kurseong. Ms Banerjee
announced the plans at the 120th
birth anniversary celebrations of
freedom fighter Netaji Subhas
Chandra Bose in Darjeeling.
Delhi to have 100 Aam Aadmi
OVER 100 Aam Aadmi Canteens
will be opened in Delhi after
the successful trial of one such
canteen at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash
Hospital. The hospital staff,
patients and people visiting the
hospital can have food for Rs10
Delhi health minister Satyendar
Jain said the pilot project will
continue for a month.
Currently, only lunch is pro-
vided at the canteen.
In March last year, the Delhi
government had allocated
Rs10 crores in its budget for
Aam Aadmi Canteens.
Dharamsala is second
capital of Himachal
HIMACHAL Pradesh chief
minister Virbhadra Singh has
announced that Dharamsala
town in Kangra district will
be the second state capital.
He said the town has sig-
nificance and a history of its
own and fully deserved to be
lesser blood loss, have a shorter
stay in the ICU and the hospital
and go through a quicker recovery
People in AP and Telangana
consuming unhealthy amounts
A RECENT study has found that
the levels of salt consumption in
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
are very high.
Though the World Health
Organisation recommend just
five grams of salt per day, the two
states are consuming as much as
9.45 grams of salt per day with
their meals. This was found from
a survey of 758 individuals from
the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
The health study has recom-
mended that India must set up
a National Salt Reduction Pro-
gramme which will create aware-
ness and also encourage people to
reduce salt in their diet.
Expansion plans for Patna
THE Centre has finalised the
land swap deal between the
Airports Authority of India
(AAI) and the state govern-
ment for the expansion and
development of the Jay-
aprakash Narayan Interna-
tional Airport in Patna.
According to the deal, Bi-
har will provide 11.35 acres
near the Patna airport to AAI
in lieu of an equal area of
land to be given to the state
A central government state-
the second capital of the state.
He added that it has a value to
the lower areas of the state com-
prising Kangra, Chamba, Hamir-
pur and Una districts. Mr Singh
said Dharamsala was already
marked prominently not only in
the map of India but of the world
due to many reasons, including
the Dalai Lama’s abode.
101 robotic surgeries in
five months at Bengaluru’s
Narayana Health City
OVER 100 successful robotic sur-
geries in a span of five months —
that is the remarkable feat that the
Institute of Robotic Surgery with
Da Vinci Robotic Surgical System
in partnership with Infosys Foun-
dation at Narayana Health City
and a team of doctors from differ-
ent specialisations has achieved.
In the picture below, Infosys
foundation chairperson Sudha
Murthy was present at the press
conference celebrating the
With the Da Vinci surgical sys-
tem, surgeons operate through a
few small incisions. Patients suffer
ment said: “The proposed land
in Patna will be used to expand
the airport and construct a new
terminal building along with other
associated infrastructure. The
new terminal building will have a
capacity of three million passen-
gers per year which will not only
enhance the airport capacity but
also provide convenience to the
Soon, post offices to provide
THE Ministry of External Affairs
and the Department of Posts
will use Head Post Offices across
India as Post Office Passport Seva
Kendra to deliver passport-related
services. The expansion of services
will reach more people.
A statement from the ministry
initially said that the pilot project
would be inaugurated on Jan 25
at the Mysuru Head Post office in
Karnataka and at Dahod in Gu-
jarat. But due to the model code
of conduct being in place, the
announcement of the post offices
was deferred till after the elections
in five states.
No toilet at home? No rations
THE Sheopur district adminis-
tration in Madhya Pradesh will
provide rations to people with
Below Poverty Line cards only if
they produce a certificate stat-
ing that they have built a toilet at
home. This is done in a bid to get
the Open Defecation Free status as
soon as possible.
Sheopur district Collector
Abhijit Agarwal told The Indian
Express that the “strategy has
worked” and that except for a few,
all households now have toilets
at home. The villagers were made
to take an oath that each house-
hold would have a toilet by Jan
26 — the Open Defecation Free
target for the district that has 587
Jumbo jackets for
rescued elephants in
Agra to tackle the cold
ELEPHANTS at Wildlife
SOS, a rescue and conserva-
tion centre in Agra, have
been provided with special
jumbo-sized woollen jack-
ets to protect them from the
biting cold (left).
The centre has designed
and created the jackets to
ensure they are comfortable
during the season.
Wildlife SOS co-founder
and CEO Kartick Satyana-
rayan said: “It is important
to keep our elephants pro-
tected from the bitter cold
during this extreme winter,
as they are weak and vul-
nerable, having suffered so
much abuse, making them
susceptible to ailments such
He added that the cold
can also worsen arthritis,
which is a common issue
that the rescued elephants
have to deal with.
January 27, 2017
Bringing home stolen idols
Looting continues... Art theft is prevalent all over India, with the
richest pickings in the state of Tamil Nadu, where centuries-old
religious artefacts (left) with huge potential sale values in the West lie
accessible in remote rural temples (above).
down India’s stolen
in museums around
Y DAY, Mr Arvind Venkatra-
man (right) works as a soft-
ware engineer in India’s tech
But in his spare time, he is an in-
ternational art detective whose ef-
forts have helped bring back some
of his country’s most valuable antiq-
Mr Venkatraman is part of a group
of art enthusiasts known as the In-
dia Pride Project (IPP) who are us-
ing Facebook and other social media
to identify religious artefacts stolen
from temples around the country
and secure their return.
Art theft is big business all over
And the richest pickings are in Mr
Venkatraman’s home state of Tamil
Nadu, where centuries-old religious
artefacts with huge potential sale
values in the West lie largely un-
protected in out-of-the-way rural
Two years ago, the IPP claimed
a significant victory when the Na-
tional Gallery of Australia returned
a US$5 million bronze statue of the
Hindu god Shiva that had been sto-
len from a Tamil Nadu temple.
At first, Mr Venkatraman says the
gallery, which is now suing the Man-
hattan dealership that sold it the
statue, was reluctant to entertain the
idea that its purchase was stolen.
So the IPP organised a social me-
dia campaign using images compar-
ing the stolen idol with the one on
display at the museum.
“Initially, typically there is a de-
nial,” he told AFP in Chennai.
“Whether it is Australia, Europe
or the US, initially there will be re-
sistance from the museum curators...
because they’ve spent a lot of mon-
ey, and they wouldn’t want to let go
of an object.”
Manhattan art dealer
The idol is among those allegedly
trafficked by Subhash Kapoor, a
former Manhattan art dealer who
was the subject of a massive US
federal investigation known as
Operation Hidden Idol.
Kapoor was arrested in Germany
in 2012 and is now on trial in India,
accused of conspiring in the theft,
trafficking and sale of religious idols.
He denies all charges.
Many of the antiquities he dealt
in dated back to the 11th and 12th
centuries, when the Chola dynasty
presided over a flourishing of Hindu
art in Tamil Nadu.
“This operation went on for many
years,” said Mr Prateep V. Philip,
who heads Tamil Nadu’s Idol Wing
— India’s only police team dedicat-
ed to tackling art theft.
“He (Kapoor) himself was not on
the scene, but he was the master-
Mr Philip said Kapoor won over
the international art world by donat-
ing millions of dollars’ worth of piec-
es to museums in the United States.
He ran his own freight company in
India, allegedly concealing priceless
antiques among modern replicas.
“Whenever a theft took place in
the past, sometimes people were not
even aware,” said Mr Philip, describ-
ing the thousands of small shrines
that dot the state as “easy prey”.
“It would be a derelict temple vis-
ited only at certain times of the year.
So when a theft took place, it was
discovered long after,” he added.
This means much of India’s stolen
sacred art is never even registered as
missing, allowing it to be bought and
sold on the international market.
Solving the puzzle
Dr Donna Yates, who lectures in an-
tiquities trafficking at the University
of Glasgow, said she was “absolutely
flabbergasted” when it emerged the
Australian gallery’s statue was sto-
“If you’d asked me in 2011 (before
Kapoor’s arrest) whether this kind of
thing was still possible, I’d have said
no. I believed the due diligence of
museums had vastly improved,” she
said in a phone interview.
Since the arrest, Washington has
returned hundreds of artefacts re-
covered under Operation Hidden
Idol to India.
But idols are still disappearing.
Last year, Mr Philip’s team ar-
rested an art dealer in Chennai after
recovering hundreds of metal and
stone statues of Hindu gods from a
Dr Yates believes the grassroots
work of the IPP in documenting
cases of theft and bringing them to
public attention is crucial — and un-
matched anywhere in the world.
“The amount that they’ve been
able to do with zero resources is
amazing. It has happened nowhere
else,” she said.
The volunteers, who are all pas-
sionate about Indian art, go through
old catalogues from auction houses,
using any blemishes or imperfec-
tions to match with idols stolen from
Founded by two Singapore-based
art enthusiasts, it now includes ac-
tivists from all over the world.
The work is unpaid, but Mr Ven-
katraman says it is all worth it when
an idol is returned to the temple it
“When finally the idol is restitut-
ed, the temple comes alive,” he said.
“It is a kind of cycle... Once that cy-
cle is complete, it is like saying, okay,
the puzzle is finally solved.”
January 27, 2017
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