The Kohinoor Diamond has been in the popular emotional discourse of the country for as long as I can remember. Though the demand for the Kohinoor never makes front page or breaking news, it pops up with unfailing regularity every now and then. And each time it does, there are reactions from people asserting their self-righteous national pride, indignation, anger, cynicism, etc. Last time I checked, the ToI article had got 280 comments!
I saw the Kohinoor in July last year, when I queued up with a large crowd of mostly Indians and Pakistanis, who had come to see the Crown Jewels (but had eyes only for THE Kohinoor). The Kohinoor is part of the British Crown Jewels and is displayed along with other crown jewels at the Waterloo Block within the Tower of London.
Seeing the Crown Jewels is an eye-blinding, jaw-dropping experience. After all there are a dazzling 23,578 gems in the collection. But the Kohinoor, which is actually not at all impressive, drew the maximum crowd. It was interesting to eavesdrop at comments made by Indian and Pakistani tourists, as both sets claimed ownership to the diamond. Just imagine if some Iranians and Afghanis, who also claim ownership to the diamond, were present!
I have mixed feelings about the claims made by India for the return of the Kohinoor and other jewels and artefacts “taken” by the British. On an emotional level, I feel that the Kohinoor belongs to India and should come back here. But when I see the state of museums in India and the apathy of the Indian public towards our priceless heritage, I feel that the Kohinoor is better off where it is, inspiring awe and appreciation from tourists from all over the world.
What do you think? Do let me know.