British Museum, London, a veritable repository of looted items from India - a brief note


British Museum,

Above image: In the British museum stashed are the loots from the colonial colonies and other places, the largest are from India that includes vast jewelry collections and gemstone that are on display in under the Royal collection of jewelry in the Tower of London museum. The world famous Kohinoor diamond with the crown is on display here. Tipu Sultan’s throne,  Bengal's Siraj ud Daulah’s palanquin, the Nussack diamond of Maharashtra are in other museums. ........ 

The museums across  England are, no doubt, well reputed and fascinating ones and on display in them are  the finest and  most exquisite collections of rare artifacts, idols, sculptures, scriptures, etc dating back to several centuries. Surprisingly, a preponderance of them are from the Indian subcontinent that the British  ruled for more than 200 years till 1947. I have heard visitors to the museums there say each one is something like the  treasure cave in the fairly tale of Alibaba and forty thieves. How appropriate it is to compare the British museums to the Arabian fairytale. In the last few decades Indians visiting these museums have been  appalled by the tens of thousands of Indian artifacts, etc from the idol of Annapurna, silverware rare brass and alloyed metal idols of gods and goddesses from temples, the golden throne of Maharajah Ranjit singh, etc- all looted  from India during the colonial period; the impressive collection is too huge and mind boggling.  No doubt Indian visitors to the British  museums call each one of them  a ''British chor bazaar,”  Hidden behind these beautiful exhibits are the dark and  poignant stories of looting and exploitation of Indian natural resources, besides vast revenue for the British Crown that otherwise would have gone to the natives.   

The museums in England, particularly the one in London are filled with rare and breathtaking artefacts that can not be replicated.  Nor can their antique value be calculated precisely.  They are priceless and one of its kind in this world. There are countless sculptures and idols - both stone and metal dating back to 700 AD taken from the places of worship-Hindu, Jain and Buddhist shrines across India. A small tour of the museum would make a patriotic Indian sick and grapple with pain how much of Indian  art, culture and wealth, unscrupulously the British had stolen, who centuries ago, landed in India as mercantile traders  under the London based flagship company named East India Company which later assumed the role of a Proxy government for the British Crown with the latter's consent. So the royal family of Britain is also a party to the wholesale loot from the subcontinent. 

The Hindustani slang for plunder: loot, got into the English language long ago; thanks to the British looters of India. It is one of the earliest Indian words to enter the English Dictionary.  According to the famous and impartial historian William Dalrymple in his most recent work, ‘The anarchy: The relentless rise of the East India Company’. When the word from Indian northern states entered the British vocabulary by the 18th century,  in the same period there was a large scale  looting of   hundreds of artefacts, paintings, coins, manuscripts, etc  and for decades the British ships landed on the English shores with much of them stolen by the greedy and grasping  colonial officers.

Reacting to the overwhelming earliest loots from India  historian Dalrymple comments on  the first governor of the Bengal presidency Robert Clive, the greatest thief  whose hoards are on display in his palatial mansion the Powis Castle in Wales. “There are more Mughal artefacts stacked in this private house in the Welsh countryside than are on display in any one place in India… The riches include hookahs of varnish gold inlaid empurpled ebony, superbly inscribed Badakhshan spinels and jeweled daggers; gleaming rubies the colour of pigeon’s blood, and scatterings of lizard-green emeralds,”Dalrymple writes.

 In January 1767  Robert Clive had amassed a fortune of £180,000 (equivalent to £25,700,000 in 2021) which he remitted through the Dutch East India Company. Clive of India as he was known, he was called a racist plunderer and his spoils of war in India are  public. His loots made him the richest self-made man in Europe. In 2004 his descendants sold a Jade flask to a Qatari royal family for 3 million pounds. He goes by the name of Thug of Hindustan.

Owing to various wars in the colonial period, the spoils of war and wanton colonial loot much of India’s cultural, historical and religious were taken away and are on display across England. According to the UNESCO  report on India's heritage the country had lost more than 50,000 heritage items  until 1989, and most of them are in the British museum. India's fascinating past history was cut loose by the British empire and the displays in the museum showcase their military and administrative power over their colonies, but their dishonesty, racial disparity and cheating are relegated to the backstage. The  appended British history has innumerable holes  and is filled with bloodshed, mass killing, deceit and double-dealin