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India to help Greece reclaim historical artefacts from UK, reports British media

The Daily Telegraph has reported that India is mulling over throwing its diplomatic weight behind Greece and other nations in quest of reclaiming artefacts from the United Kingdom. This is a part of India’s global initiative to support victims of “colonial appropriation”. Greece has spent years making efforts to prise the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum; however, diplomatic support from a leading global power like India could now help Athens materialise its long-cherished dream.

India leading a global cultural revolution

Officials in India’s Ministry of Culture said that India wants to form an informal alliance of nations that are campaigning for cultural returns. Lily Pandeya, Joint Secretary of India’s Ministry of Culture, was quoted by The Telegraph as saying, “We would seek a consensus between the nations, and as the G20 is the most influential forum, to achieve tangible outcomes. We can be a voice at that table for other nations facing these issues.” 

Watch: Will India get the Kohinoor Diamond back?

She added, “During our presidency, we want to be champions of the global south, those countries who are so strongly affected by issues relating to heritage, such as trafficking, and who in the past were on the receiving end of colonial appropriation.”

India trying to reclaim Kohinoor diamond from the UK

Earlier, Telegraph claimed that Narendra Modi-led Indian government was planning to launch a campaign to prise Indian artefacts from the British Museum, including Kohinoor and collection of Hindu statues and the Amravati Marbles taken from a Buddhist stupa by civil servant Sir Walter Elliot. India believes this campaign can be bolstered with official backing from other nations seeking cultural reparations from the UK.  

For example, Cambodia is seeking the return of sacred artefacts smuggled during the Khmer Rouge rule. Similarly, Greece has long maintained that the 5th-century BC marble friezes, sculptures and metopes (plaques) taken from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin were taken away by the British Empire in the early 19th century.

Does India hold leverage against the UK?

Experts in the UK believe the country’s trade ties with India are crucial for reviving the British economy, reeling under massive inflation. India is also the current G20 chair, and it plans to raise the issue of cultural reparation in the G20 meeting slated to be held in September this year. Meanwhile, the US has also been a supporter of cultural reparations.

So, the UK might find itself isolated if it pursues a nationalist and aggressive approach to undermine New Delhi’s initiative. 

Source: New Delhi, India