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‘We Must Take Back the Koh-i-Noor’: Claims in a Post-Truth World

There are no facts, only interpretations.
           ― Friedrich Nietzsche

The claim that has been doing the rounds, ‘we must get back the Koh-i-Noor’, is now a point of contestation. In the wake of the ardent claimants- Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, each vociferously entitles their prerogative hold, stating, ‘the Koh-i-Noor belongs to us.’ Reading such alleged claims, the world quizzically asks: Who is the actual possessor of the Koh-i-Noor? What was the true history of the Koh-i-Noor? Why is the Koh-i-Noor this special?

 

The switching headlines, from “Pakistan lays claim the gem was ‘forcibly’ taken by Britain” (quoted in Mail Online), to “Taliban asks the Queen to return Koh-i-Noor gem” (quoted in The Guardian), to “India renews claim on Kohinoor” (quoted in Times of India), kindle the premise: What is the ultimate truth?

Befuddled over the multiple claims, each prioritizing its supreme possession, we enter into the world of post-truth. The world that questions the hegemony of one absolute truth wherein ‘that one truth’ losses its essence for being awfully dictatorial. The world now paves the way for something beyond/after truth. As the name suggested, post-truth alludes to something after/beyond truth, for centralizing one absolute truth is hazardous to progression. Thus, post-truth intends to debunk the fundamental premise, what is the ultimate truth? Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), from the importance of Being Earnest (1895), states, “truth is rarely pure and never simple

.” Furthermore, adding to the connotation of truth, Akira Kurosawa, a renowned film-maker, in her 1950 film Rashomon introduces the ‘Rashomon effect.’ The effect is referred to as something that illustrates “how a single event can be described in various ways due to the unreliability of multiple witnesses. The witnesses’ unreliability and subjectivity are a result of situational, social and cultural differences”. Hereafter, finding oneself in the whirlwind of one absolute truth, the post-truth world offers a productive space to the viewers/subjects to recount their idea of truth. 

Based on history, lucidly projected through historians William Dalrymple and Anita Anand in their non-fiction work titled Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond (2016), we, once again learn that the Koh-i-Noor “has always had a fog of mystery around it. Moving from Mughal court to Nadir Shah’s Persia to Afghanistan, from Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s durbar in Punjab to Queen Victoria’s place”. Grounding on Babarnama and Shahnama, the historians refer to Mughal treasury marked with Shah Jahan’s much-acclaimed asset in 1672- “the Jewelled Throne, attaching the Koh-i-Noor at the top of the Peacock Throne.” Which was then shifted to a Persian King, Nader Shah’s treasury in 1792 who brutally took away “the greatest of all-the Peacock Throne” from Mughals in India to Persia. From Persia, the Koh-i-Noor was then plundered by Ahmad Khan Abdali, the founder of the Durrani Empire, finding “the new home of the Koh-i-Noor for the next seventy years.” Furthermore, historians record that under the supreme rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Sikhs in Punjab (with Lahore as the capital) believed that “for the next thirty-six years the Koh-i-Noor would be in possession of Sikhs as a symbol of sovereignty.” This continued till Duleep Singh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s son from his seventeenth wife, Jindan Kaur, was forced to surrender the Koh-i-Noor, under the Treaty of Lahore (1846), to the British. Accordingly, leading to the total annexation of Punjab and the loss of the Koh-i-Noor to Queen Victoria, the Koh-i-Noor, since then, became British property, residing on the crown of Queen Victoria. Today, the Koh-i-Noor is displayed in the Tower of London with the Crown Jewels; however, the ownership of the Koh-i-Noor continues to be a bone of contention amidst various claimants.

The current assertions (as made in Kohinoor): Afghanistan’s claim that “the history of the diamond shows it was taken from us [Afghanistan] to India, and from there to Britain. We have a much better claim than the Indians”. While Pakistan’s claim that “the Koh-i-Noor is a ‘Pakistan asset’ in ‘illegal possession’ of Britain,” and India’s claim that, “under the Common Law Doctrine of ‘trespass to goods, the British government had stolen the diamond”; collectively create topoi abounding in the observation that every country seems to bicker on establishing its respective absolute truth. Thereafter, the current assertions generate a battle to prioritize one unquestioned absolute truth, thus propelling mayhem.

We must take back the Koh-i-Noor’- Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, each assertively develops its claim, eventually giving rise to conflict. The Koh-i-Noor being an asset of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India at one point in history, should have been sensed as pride for each country; unfortunately, it resulted in each fighting to claim its ownership. Its Creating havoc in the world; instigated questions are: Who finally owns the Kohi-i-Noor? To which nation should the Koh-i-Noor go back? Should the Koh-i-Noor stay with Britain? Making sense of the above floating questions, based on the contestation of narratives, the recognition of lies as not a binary opponent of truth but as an alternative truth/fact emerges. Plainly, by recognizing post-truth as a phenomenon, it rescues the destruction caused by absolute truth. Rather than squabbling over objectively homogeneous reality, let us peacefully enter into a world that appreciates subjectively heterogeneous fact. Hence, the post-truth world urges people to create their version of the truth, the one marked with a difference. Comprehensively, vocalize ‘truth with a possessive pronoun’; your truth, my truth, everyone else’s truth, such that each version is celebrated and not conflicted.

The twenty-first century is seen to have entered the post-truth world, wherein the core of sovereignty of absolute truth is destabilized. There comes a dire need to dismantle the constructed ‘truth’ of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, for the destructive tendency of spreading hatred, hostility, competition, and violence. The post-truth concept, contemptuous of conflicts, offers a space to celebrate differences of opinions. The cultural, historical, social, geographical, religious differences, etc., are accredited to make this world a happy, peaceful place. Friedrich Nietzsche’s “There are no facts, only interpretations” conclusively caters to the era of diversity and heterogeneity, judiciously rendering the meaning to the post-truth world. Conclusively, a post-truth world is re-defined as one marked with ‘unity in diversity, hence, acknowledging the beauty of differences. So rather than fighting over differences- of opinions, facts, statements, history, etc., let us all pledge to celebrate the differences to make this world a happy place- infused with peace, love, and harmony.

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