Apathy towards antiquities

27 Apr 2016 1:19 PM | Anonymous

Apathy towards antiquities

  A. Srivathsan

With poor documentation of existing and stolen artefacts, outdated laws, and unqualified investigative agencies, India’s record in preserving its past is deplorable

The Indian government’s response in the Kohinoor case has exposed its insensate ignorance. It not only got the facts wrong, but appeared embarrassingly out of depth in understanding restitution of antiquities. Given the poor track record in restitution, it seems unlikely that India will get the Kohinoor back. But the greater worry is its apathy towards antiquities. While countries such as Italy have not only successfully pursued stolen artefacts abroad but also effectively protected them locally, India, which is equally archaeologically rich and a victim of illicit trading, is far from it.

Studies have exhaustively documented the origins of the Kohinoor diamond in India, its complicated trail, and its eventual placement in the British royal crown. History does not leave to doubt that Lord Dalhousie forcefully acquired it from the young king Duleep Singh in 1849 when the East India Company annexed Punjab. Dalhousie compelled Singh to gift the diamond to Prince Albert and Queen Victoria as a “memorial of conquest”. However, later, as historian Danielle Kinsey’s research would show, Singh unsuccessfully demanded the return of the diamond.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/kohinoor-diamond-case-comment-article-by-a-srivathsan-on-apathy-towards-antiquities/article8524622.ece