Weekly Current Affairs

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Great Exhibition of 1851 made Kohinoor the most famous diamond: Dalrymple

  • Noted historian and writer William Dalrymple said it was the “British bragging” and the way the Kohinoor was projected by them, which made the gem world’s most famous diamond.
  • Mr. Dalrymple, in his new book titled Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond, has argued that colonial Britain “consciously” made it into a “unique icon” and the “gem of gems,” something that has now turned against them, with most Indians associating it with a symbol of “colonial loot.”
  • “Kohinoor becoming ‘the gem of gems’ was British creation.
  • Bigging up their conquest, they consciously put it on show at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and made it into symbol of what they had taken from India.
  • Writer notes that there were diamonds like Dari-a-Nur or the Orlov — the Dari-a- Nur which was taken by Nadir Shah to Iran and the Orlov, now in Kremlin, also taken by Nadir Shah and later passed on to Russia, which were bigger in size than the Kohinoor, but have never been called for return.
  • The book unearths “new” information about the diamond as it moves from the Mughal courts to Persia to Afghanistan; from Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s durbar in Punjab to the Queen of England’s Crown.
  • The commonly believed narrative that the Khilijis looted it before passing it on to the Lodhis, who passed it on to the Tughlaks, who in turn passed it on to the Mughals until Muhammad Shah Rangila hid it in his turban and ended up swapping turbans with Nadir Shah, was devoid of any “proof.”
  • Mr. Dalrymple also trashed the statement submitted in the Supreme Court earlier this year by Solicitor General of India, according to which the Kohinoor was a “gift” by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to the East India Company.
  • It was given in the ‘Treaty of Lahore’ in 1849, when Ranjit Singh would have been dead ten years. So he couldn’t have given it. It was the spoils of the conquest. ‘Treaty of Lahore’ did two things: it gave Kohinoor to Queen Victoria and it gave Punjab and Kashmir to the East India Company.