Should we reclaim the Koh-i-noor?

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.Chetna Kohli, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

Chetna Kohli, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur


The Indian government has told the Supreme Court that it should not try to reclaim the priceless Koh-i-noor diamond from Britain. The gemstone came into British hands in the mid-19th Century, and forms a part of the Crown Jewels on display at the Tower of London. The Ownership of the famous gem is an emotional issue for many Indians, who believe that it was stolen by the British during colonial rule. However, the solicitor-general disagrees and believes that it was neither stolen nor forcibly taken. He said the 105-carat diamond had been ‘gifted’ to the East India company by the former rulers of Punjab in 1849.

The case is being heard by the Supreme Court after an Indian NGO filed a petition asking the court to direct the Indian government to bring back the diamond. The court is still considering the issue, and said it did not want to dismiss the petition as it could stand in the way of future attempts to bring back items that once belonged to India. The Foreign Affairs Ministry will be approched for discussion on the matter.

Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, said a few years ago that it should be returned as ‘atonement for the colonial past’. However, successive British prime ministers have refused to do so.

The diamond was last worn by the late Queen and was displayed on her crown when her coffin lay in the state after her death in 2002. The Koh-i-Noor, meaning “Mountain of Light” in Persian, is one of the most precious cowining jewels. It has been the subject of conquest and intrigue for centuries, passing through the hands of Mughal princes, Iranian warriors, Afghan rulers and Punjabi Maharajas. The stone was originally found in India’s Golconda mines and measured 186 carats when it was eventually handed to the British in 1849 under a treaty that was signed after the Anglo-Sikh war.However, the diamond’s traditional rose cut could not awe visitors of the Great Exhibition in 1851 and so it was re-cast as an oval, gaining sparkle but losing a lot of weight in the process.

It is said to be unlucky for men to wear the Koh-i-Noor diamond owing to its long and bloody history. Some Indian and Pakistani visitors to the Tower of London hiss as they pass it – they want it returned to the Indian subcontinent, though to which country remains unclear.

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