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Abandoning Kohinoor

Abandoning Kohinoor
Highlights

It’s rather astonishing that the NDA government which takes pride in its brand of nationalism chose to officially abandon its claim to the famed Kohinoor diamond that remained an irritant in Indo –British diplomacy for decades. 

It’s rather astonishing that the NDA government which takes pride in its brand of nationalism chose to officially abandon its claim to the famed Kohinoor diamond that remained an irritant in Indo –British diplomacy for decades.

It’s a travesty of justice for all those who have been longing to bring back this huge diamond alienated to the British during the colonial era.

India should relinquish its claim to the Kohinoor, the government told the Supreme Court, because it was given to the British rather than stolen. The 105-carat Kohinoor is one of the world’s largest diamonds. It has been part of the British crown jewels for more than 150 years.

The government’s submission to the apex court is not only flawed but in one way legitimises the colonial plunder. The diamond was a ‘gift’ by an Indian ruler to the colonial power.

Thus, Kohinoor like many other precious artifacts was moved to Britain under dubious circumstances. The colonial exploitation should be viewed as a theft. The Britain should return the Kohinoor to atone for its colonial past. India is fully justified in demanding so.

The return of Kohinoor will in fact only be symbolic as the colonial power pillaged and ruined the country’s economy. The British refusal and India’s renunciation is preposterous.

“It was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away,” this is what the Solicitor General told the Supreme Court echoing the British argument. But, the colonial relationship between the Maharaja and the British is the context in which the diamond was given. India cannot ignore this even if the British wants us to do so.

During his visit to India in 2010, the then British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the diamond would stay in London. “What tends to happen with these questions is that if you say yes to one, then you would suddenly find the British Museum empty,” he said.

But, the British should listen to this comment. Taking a dig at the British and their tendency to hoard artifacts from its former colonies, John Oliver ended his TV show saying: "The entire British Museum is an active crime scene." And, India cannot ascribe legitimacy to this crime scene.

The Kohinoor is only one among countless artifacts taken from India during the colonial rule. Kohinoor diamond is our cultural heritage. The king who gifted it during colonial era was not the owner.

The citizens of India own it. It was reportedly mined in Guntur district. It’s, therefore, the cultural legacy of Telugu people. The British in fact appropriated it. India should explore the diplomatic channels.

It can even take the help of international bodies like UNESCO that deal with cultural heritage. The Government of India’s submission to the Supreme Court disarms all such efforts to get back Kohinoor.

When the British can claim rights over the Falkland Islands, an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, east of South America's southern Patagonian coast, that it acquired through colonial conquest,

why not India demand the return of Kohinoor diamond. Even the British Indian MP Keith Vaz had called for the return of Kohinoor diamond to India. But, the Indian government relinquishes it. It’s certainly a matter of indignation.

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