India Backs Return of the Stolen Parthenon Marbles: Does Greece?

ATHENS – India, a former British colony that endured oppressive rule and looting, is now advocating for the return of the stolen Koh-i-Noor diamond, currently housed in the British crown. Additionally, India is supporting Greece’s efforts to reclaim the stolen Parthenon Marbles, currently held in the British Museum.

According to the British newspaper, The Telegraph, this forms part of India’s foreign policy plan to support other countries that have been victims of “colonial appropriation,” despite the fact that the Marbles were taken by Lord Elgin, a Scottish diplomat, during Greece’s occupation under the Ottoman Empire.

The Telegraph has revealed that India is preparing a long-term campaign to reclaim various artifacts, including the Koh-i-Noor, from Britain. Diplomatic efforts will be made to assist other nations whose cultural treasures were plundered.

India intends to serve as a voice for countries that have suffered from “colonial appropriation” and will urge the international community to exert pressure on the British government.

This stance could potentially create a challenging situation for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, given his Indian heritage. Although he remains firm that Greece will not recover the Marbles, he may face scrutiny due to his background if he resists returning the diamond.

India, holding the presidency of the G20 along with the European Union this year, plans to use its position to advocate for the return of historical artifacts taken from colonies or acquired through appropriation, according to The Telegraph. During meetings in September, Indian officials intend to urge other G20 members to pressure Britain regarding the restitution of cultural treasures.

New Delhi officials expressed their ambition to lead globally in the restoration of historical artifacts and be a voice for nations campaigning for the return of their cultural heritage. Lily Pandeya, Joint Secretary of India’s Ministry of Culture and cultural lead for the G20, stated, “We aim to achieve tangible outcomes by seeking consensus among nations, leveraging the influential platform of the G20. We will represent the concerns of other countries facing similar issues.”

Pandeya added, “As champions of the global south during our presidency, we stand for those countries profoundly affected by heritage-related issues, including trafficking, and historically subjected to colonial appropriation.”

The protection and restitution of cultural property stand among India’s four cultural priorities as it approaches G20 discussions. However, this stance may clash with Greece’s New Democracy government, which has proposed a de facto loan arrangement for the Marbles rather than an outright return.

India also lays claim to a statue of the Hindu saint Chandikeshvara, believed to have been removed from a temple in southern India. The statue is currently housed at the Ashmolean Museum, part of Oxford University in England.

The Amaravati Marbles, taken from the ruins of a Buddhist Stupa by civil servant Sir Walter Elliot in 1845, were sent to London and placed in the British Museum, initially referred to as the Elliot Marbles to assert British ownership.

The case of the Parthenon Marbles may take center stage at the G20 meeting, as Greece, a member of the European Union, will be represented unless Mitsotakis secures a loan deal beforehand.

While British law prohibits the deaccessioning of stolen artifacts, preventing their return to their countries of origin, India intends to make at least a moral argument, even though such arguments have historically failed to sway the British.


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