India-UK Current Affairs - 2019

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UK returns ‘stolen’ 12th century Buddha statue 57 years later

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman handed over antique 12th century Bronze Idol of Buddha that was stolen from Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) Nalanda site museum in 1961 to Union Minister of State for Culture & Tourism (IC) Prahlad Singh Patel in New Delhi.

This ‘stolen’ 12th century Buddha was returned a month before (in August 2019) to the Indian High Commission by the London Metropolitan Police.

The Bronze statue of Buddha is documented as ‘Seated Buddha in Bhumisparsha Mudra’. It is of Ht. 6.5″ and belongs to Circa 12th Century AD. It was amongst the 19 bronze statues that were stolen from ASI Museum at Nalanda in August 1961.

Background

The 12th century Bronze Idol of Buddha seated in the Bhumisparsha Mudra was stolen on 22 August 1961 from Nalanda Museum of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). After a gap of nearly 57 years, in February 2018, the stolen statue had resurfaced at an auction  in Masstricht (a city in Netherlands) organized by a London based dealer Rossi & Rossi.

Then on receiving information Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officer in London (UK) contacted ASI, UK Customs and Art & Antique Unit of London Metropolitan Police. ASI also certified and confirmed the findings and provided documentary evidence (FIR which was filed in 1961) that the statue was stolen from Archaeological Museum, Nalanda.

Later on 15 August 2018, Scotland Yard handed over the Buddha statue to Indian High Commissioner to UK, YK Sinha to mark India’s 72nd Independence Day.

India, UK launch Innovating for Clean Air initiative in Bengaluru

India and United Kingdom launched two-year joint initiative- Innovating for Clean Air (IfCA) n Bengaluru, capital of Karnataka. It is aimed at providing unique air quality measurement system by integrating satellite and sensor data and support India’s transition to Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Innovating for Clean Air (IfCA)

  • Features: It will identify innovations having potential to improve air quality and contribute to more detailed localised map of air quality of Bengaluru through unique combination of satellite and sensor data, including both on-the-ground and mobile data.
  • It will identify relevant challenges around EV-charging infrastructure, integrating renewable energy and grid management to ensure sufficient, reliable and clean source of power.
  • It will also facilitate opportunities for Indian and UK innovators to collaborate in developing long-lasting relationships to address these challenges.
  • Participating bodies in programme: It is led by Innovate UK — part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and is funded by Newton Fund with matched resources from various key partners in Karnataka and India, like Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Enzen, Project Lithium, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) , C40 Cities and Clean Air Platform.
  • Its other partners include Indian Institute for Information Technology Bangalore (IIIT-B), Citizens for Sustainability, World Resources Institute, Shakti Foundation, Shell Technology Centre, Global Business Inroads and India Smart Grid Forum.