The Supreme Court has disposed of a petition to bring the kohinoor diamond back to India. The Court isn’t going to interfere with the diplomatic process that this would involve.
The kohinoor was discovered in Andhra Pradesh in India in the 13th century. Or maybe it was Krishna’s legendary shyamantakamani. There’s plenty written about its sad history. In 1849, 13-year-old Maharaja Duleep Singh was coerced by Dalhousie into sailing to England to give it to Queen Victoria as a ‘gift.’ All of thirteen, did the poor kid have a choice? The stone is now in the Tower of London.
Personally, I’m not sure we must try to bring it back to India. These are my reasons:
- There are elaborate arrangements in the Tower of London for guarding it. Can we keep it equally safe here? How many crores in taxpayers’ money will that cost?
- Excited crowds will come to view it and there will be airport level security, or worse. It won’t be fun visiting it. After standing in queues in lots of tourist places, I know.
- There could be tragic stampedes when hordes of people are funnelled into the necessarily small display area in front of a glass case.
- It could be a target for terror attacks.
- It is flawed. It has yellow flecks deep inside that prevent it from shining by refracting light. It is lacklustre. Only flawless diamonds have value as far as I know. It may be just a glorified lump of carbon.
- It is cursed.
- It is not beautiful despite attempts over centuries to chisel it into shape, remove its flaws and place it in flattering display cases.
- It has been through the hands of the likes of Alauddin Khilji, Malik Kafur, Aurangazeb and Dalhousie and gathered a great deal of negative energy. That’s what a crystal healer told me. Queen Victoria apparently confessed to her daughter that she disliked wearing it.
When he visited India in July 2010, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, said about returning the diamond, “If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty.” Very true! They can’t afford to return things to their rightful owners, so they won’t. ‘Finders, keepers’ is a favourite English saying, though it has its origins in ancient Roman law. The ethical – and perhaps legal – problem is in defining when something is considered ‘found.’ Just like what exactly constitutes a ‘gift!’
A diamond has to be perfect, flawless, brilliant and hypnotising to be called a jewel. Lacking all these attributes and merely being one of the world’s largest lacklustre diamonds is not enough to be a gem. Five countries want it, so there’s a demand of sorts, so nobody is going to say “the emperor has no clothes!”
Maybe we should have one of those exciting referendums that are held countrywide for every confounded issue nowadays: Indians! Do you want the kohinoor back? Yes or No?