Should the Kohinoor Diamond be returned to India?

“India wants UK to return Kohinoor”. When I read this headline in The Times of India (ToI) yesterday, my first reaction was “not again!”

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!

Source: Wikipedia

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.

Waterloo Block at 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.

9 thoughts on “Should the Kohinoor Diamond be returned to India?

  1. Yeah, you are right about the state of our museums. I’m very sure that if brought to India it would only be a matter of time before it was stolen, just like Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize.

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  2. You are correct regarding the fact the our museums are not completely protected but on the other hand, most of the Indians have a passion towards their national pride and when it comes to proving something, they always do.
    We should not forget that, Indians are the ones who come up with strategies (and discover wonderful scientific things) but the western countries are the ones who actually implement and use them. But when it will come to India’s pride, the government as well as the public will make sure that the diamond is as safe as it is in UK.
    The diamond was discovered in India. It was taken away from the ruler of Punjab. It was not given(…as it was under the treaty that the East India Company signed with the ruler of Punjab and the ruler HAD to give up on the diamond or he would have had to face ‘unfavorable’ actions)
    The diamond traveled through other countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan (which earlier was part of India) but it should never be forgotten that it had always been part of the Indian history (there is mention of it, in Geeta)
    UK has not right to still keep the Kohinoor diamond; and this fact is agreed upon by most of the Indians.

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  3. Very well written! While the diamond was taken away unjustly, we need to ask ourselves if our museums are good enough to deserve it. Our history textbooks seem to paint a picture that the British were no more than educated robbers. We need to emphasize that the India as we see is a contribution of the British. The idea of India as a nation-state would perhaps not have been possible without the British. Even the skeleton of Indian Railways was laid by the British. In order to undo an historical wrong, we forget if our present can take it.

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    1. A warm welcome here, Sreeni, and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

      You have raised valid points about the contribution of the British to the India we know today. However, it must not be forgotten that they were conquerors first and last. While I am thankful to the infrastructure development that they did in India, it was not so much to “develop” the country as to further their conquest of the various parts of India, and to help them collect more treasures for their museums back home, genuinely or through deceit or force. You just have to visit the British Museum in London to see the Greek and Egyptian collections. I was thrilled to see objects that I had read about or heard about, but at the back of my mind was an unease that refuses to go away even today that these were taken away from the places they belong to. These countries have been petitioning the British Government for years to send their artefacts back, but to no avail.

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  4. Kohinoor should be returned to india as only Indians have the right over it and also it was unjustly taken by Britishers from a small 13 year old Dulīp Sing who was badly treated by britishers…..

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