British Prime Minister David Cameron has been questioned about the Koh-i-Noor diamond during an interview on an Indian television show. I wold not say that this is an ambush as such – any high ranking British official visiting India ought to have had this item on the list of possible things that they would be asked about.
What is more disappointing is that the Prime Minister justified his answer by falling back on the many times discredited argument that returning it would set a precedent for emptying the museums & galleries of Britain. This argument has been proven in the past not to hold true though. Restitution issues are normally dealt with on a case by case basis – each is looked at on it its own merits. On this basis, the assumption that the return of one item would lead to the return of others implies that these cases have equal justification for return in the first place. So the implication of the statement that one return would lead to others is that all items in the museums are acquired in situations of dubious legality.
A second counter point is the fact that (as shown with the return of native American artefacts in the US) that many groups do not want return – in many cases, people are happy with artefacts where they are & accept that they were acquired legitimately. In other cases, they merely want their ownership of the artefact acknowledged, or rights of access to it.
David Cameron ambushed on Indian TV over 105-carat Koh-i-noor diamond as country demands its return
By Jason Groves
Last updated at 6:00 PM on 29th July 2010
David Cameron has rejected a plea to return the fabled Koh-i-noor diamond – now the most famous of the Crown Jewels – to India.
There has been a growing clamour on the sub-continent for the repatriation of the gem, and in an interview on India’s NDTV channel the Prime Minister was asked directly if he would give it back.
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