Should India get back its Kohinoor from the British?Introduction:
Ever since Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister there have been three notable pieces of history that have been returned by other countries. The 10th century Indian statue of Goddess Durga from Germany, the 900 years old ‘Parrot Lady’ sculpture from Canada, and the antique statue of Hindu deities from Australia. It should be noted that these historical pieces were stolen from India and later found in the museums of these countries.
With hopes high, Indians are looking up to PM Modi to bring back the famous 13th century diamond that was stolen or perhaps gifted to England under the terms of the Last Treaty of Lahore. It has long been under dispute with various claims from various dynasties and even our neighboring countries trying to lay hands on the piece of stone that is worth a fortune.
Soon after independence India made claims and requests about the diamond being rightfully ours and for its return but each time British government declined the requests with their own excuses. History has only so much to say about the diamond that creates fuss that has no end but with the assurance from Modi Government that it would do everything to bring back Kohinoor, there seems hope.Yes:1. Rules of gifting:
History has it that the diamond was gifted to Queen Victoria by 13-year-old Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last Sikh ruler as a part of treaty to end a conflict. There could have been not much choice of the Giver in this as it would have been laid down as a strict term of the treaty. Surely a 13 years old child is in no state to give out such huge gifts to anyone even though he inherited them from his ancestors. Later, he also wrote to the British Government to claim the diamond back which is evidence enough for the British to return back our heritage.2. Origin:
The Kohinoor was mined from Gantur in Andhra Pradesh and first owned by the Kakatiya Dynasty in the 13th century. It was then passed over or actually possessed in loot by the Khilji Dynasty which later went into the hands of Babar during the reign of Delhi Sultanate. After being passed, on to various other hands in the same pattern of inheriting and looting, it came to the possession of Sikh Emperor Maharaja Ranjit Singh.3. Will:
Maharaja Ranjit Singh willed the diamond to the Hindu temple of Jagannath in Puri, Odisha. After his death, the East India Company did not execute his will which was a shame. Instead, after the Second Anglo-Sikh War when Punjab was annexed by British India, they eyed the diamond and desired to possess it. When the last treaty of Lahore was signed, the British made sure that the soils of war included the famous Kohinoor. Rightfully, the diamond should be in possession of the Puri temple to which it was willed by the last owner.4. One of the many looted wealth:
Laying out in paper and ink doesn’t make a loot any less of a theft possession. During its reign, the British destroyed and plundered our wealth to a great extent. While some countries have showed friendly gestures by returning the artifacts, Britain is still proud and arrogant of its colonialism. Giving back Kohinoor or any other artifact that rightfully belongs to our country shouldn’t have been so much of a problem for them otherwise.5. Holocaust Act:
The group named after Kohinoor, ‘Mountain of Light’ is trying to get back the diamond and they can rightfully base their case on the Holocaust law which gives national institutions in the UK the power to return artifacts that have been stolen from another country. No:1. Obsessing over what is lost:
We have been trying so hard since independence to get hands on what we don’t have that we are failing to pay heed to and preserve what we have. The age old monuments are losing their charm, some ancient ones are so ill-managed that they are being depleted to ruins. Scribbling on walls of these monuments have never ceased and yet we want our artifacts back with made up excuse of retaining our historical heritage.2. What is gifted is not stolen:
Whatever the condition and situation was during the annexation of Punjab, it is said that the last Maharaja travelled all the way to UK and presented the Kohinoor to Her Majesty, the queen. It was given as gift or soils of war if we like to call it but that isn’t coming back and we have to accept that instead of brooding all over history trying to find facts that could support our views despite knowing truth to be otherwise.3. Multiple claims:
There have been many claims of the diamond being rightfully theirs by Pakistan and Afghanistan. The descendants of Ranjit Singh want it too. Even the Talibans are eyeing it greedily. Next, we might see Iranians making similar claims based on the historical fact that Nader Shah also possessed it once. And even if we get back the Kohinoor, what next? The priests of Puri will want to have it as per the will. The Dalits will be agitated for they have long accused that it was harsh Brahmins of Puri who gave the diamond to British. Hyderabad will also claim it to be returned to its origin in Golconda. The Telugu priests of Warangal will want it in their temple. Dwarka Priests have their own claim of the diamond belonging originally to Krishna. The government might put it on display under high security and yet there will be many who will try to trespass and hence we will have a new lot of problem to deal with. Does India really want it back?4. Breaking relations with UK:
We do need better relations with all other countries at such crucial times when we are trying for better days for our people and at the same time fighting terrorism and corruption. Making constant claims on a diamond that was given away long before any evidences could mark its origin will only loosen ties with UK which is not something we look forward to. What is gone is gone. We need to get over it already.Conclusion:
Modi government earlier made the statement that the Kohinoor was gifted and couldn’t be brought back which was very apt but unfortunately there was controversy on that and the government had to take its famous U-turn and make promise of trying to bring the diamond back which is not going to be possible unless and until Britain gets inexplicably impressed by our PM and decides to gift it back. We don’t see that happening and hence there doesn’t seem to be any point in making claims and bringing up lawsuits. There is lack of evidence of its being stolen while there are testimonies of its being gifted. It may have belonged to us once but it doesn’t anymore which we need to accept and take care of what we have.