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India demands Kohinoor. But this British historian doesn't think we deserve it

Vishal Manve | Updated on: 9 November 2015, 23:06 IST

In what could be termed a classic case of myopic perspective used to justify Britain's invasion of India, British Historian Andrew Roberts has come forward and stated India should be glad of the annexation because 'development' came along with invasion.

The statements were made by Mr. Andrews in an interview with Mail Online on the issue of returning the Kohinoor diamond to its ancestral country India, a point that Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had raised earlier this year.

Mr. Andrews, also an author, said, "Those involved in this ludicrous case (of seeking Kohinoor back to India) should recognise that the British Crown Jewels is precisely the right place for the Kohinoor diamond to reside, in grateful recognition for over three centuries of British involvement in India, which led to the modernisation, development, protection, agrarian advance, linguistic unification and ultimately the democratisation of the sub-continent."

The problem lies in justification of colonialism and not the diamond itself:

So, with those statements in hand, would Andrew justify Russia's annexation of Crimea because, of course development will come along right? The analogy is of course, not valid because of the current geo-political situation in comparison to that three centuries ago, but shouldn't someone of Andrew's position hold a much more sensitive view of what India and other colonies went through during the colonial rule?

Development, of course but at what cost?

From one historian to another, here's what Amaresh Mishra, the author of Untold Holocaust had to say on Britain's reprisals that killed 10 million Indians in a span of ten years, "It was a holocaust, one where millions disappeared. It was a necessary holocaust in the British view because they thought the only way to win was to destroy entire populations in towns and villages. It was simple and brutal. Indians who stood in their way were killed. But its scale has been kept a secret."

So, is development a justification of all the deaths as stated by Mr Roberts? Even if you look under the realist lens used to gauge international policies, the statements would receive flak for being 'insensitive'.

Watch what Shashi Tharoor had said earlier this year:

Who wants the Diamond back?

According to news reports, a group calling itself the 'Mountain of Light' comprising of Bollywood stars and businessmen has instructed lawyers to begin legal proceedings in London's High Court to return the Koh-i-Noor diamond to India. They are demanding that the UK Government return it.

Bollywood star Bhumicka Singh from the group was quoted: "The Koh-i-noor is not just a 105-carat stone, but part of our history and culture and should undoubtedly be returned."

Legal route?

British Lawyers have said they would base their case on the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act, which gives national institutions in the UK the power to return stolen art.

Satish Jakhu, of Birmingham-based law firm Rubric Lois King, told The Independent, "We will make claim under the common law doctrine of trespass to goods. We will take the case to the International Court of Justice."

The backdrop:

The jewel was given to the reigning Queen of the time by the last ruler of the Sikhs, Duleep Singh, after the British annexe of the Punjab.

Kohinoor is a 100 million pound worth diamond which currently sits in Britain's Crown Jewels and was worn by the Queen Mother at the Coronation of her husband and then her daughter.

First published: 9 November 2015, 23:06 IST
Vishal Manve @VishalManve12

Vishal Manve handles business and international relations beat for Catch. Previously, he has worked with Scroll.in and Daily News and Analysis and has interned with BBC World News and Gateway House council on global relations. Currently, he is pursuing Law from Government Law College, Mumbai. In his free time, Vishal researches on various aspects of foreign policy, human rights and feminism and looks for people who will share their stories with him.