Kohinoor Diamond

17/11/2016 753 Culture of India | Art and Culture | View Recent Current Affairs

  •  The Centre told the Supreme Court that the Kohinoor diamond, though a “symbol of victory” for the British Empire, represented the “sentiments of the people of India.”
  • The affidavit filed by the Centre said India’s credentials regarding the ownership of the Kohinoor diamond was based on historical evidence and could not be doubted.

Historical backgrounds

  • The Kohinoor originated from India in Golconda at the Kollur mine and was specifically mined from the Rayalaseema diamond mine during the rule of the Kakatiya dynasty.
  • The Kohinoor was then passed from one ruling dynasty to the next. After the fall of Kakatiya dynasty the kohinoor was taken by Mohammed bin Tuglak who became Sultan of Delhi between 1325-1351.
  • Till 1526 it remains under Mughal dynasty then kohinoor was placed in Peacock throne of Mughal king Shah jahan. In 1739 the Persian king Nadir Shah invaded Mughal emperor and stole kohinoor diamond , after his assassination the diamond passes to his successors.
  • In 1800 king Ranjeet singh took the empire and kohinoor came under his possession.
  • Kohinoor was part of war reparations demanded by the East India Company after the defeat of the state of Punjab — then ruled by Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s child heir, Duleep Singh.

Analysis:

  • Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, was adopted by UNESCO in 1970. The Convention is seen as a key instrument to protect and safeguard world cultural properties, as well as provide a mechanism to repatriate cultural properties to their countries of origin.
  • The Convention, which has been ratified by more than 120 countries, provided a framework for cooperation to clarify the procedure for the removal of archaeological and ethnological material from one country to another. So , India has a right to ask for return of the diamond which was shipped out when it was a colony of the British Empire. To say there is no legal framework under which India can ask for the Kohinoor may not, therefore, be correct.
  • However, there are two issues concerning the applicability of the 1970 Convention. One, the draft of the Convention does not make it explicit that it can be applied retrospectively; two, the definition of ‘cultural heritage’. For India, this would be the first occasion to decide whether to invoke the UNESCO Convention to seek the diamond’s return. But if India invokes the UNESCO convention then it has to fight with other countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan on the question of source of origin.

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