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The Hindu
The Hindu

Letters to The Editor — July 14, 2023

Treasures from the colonies

The writer is correct when he asks for genuine moral atonement by Great Britain for the crimes it committed during its imperial rule (Editorial page, July 13), but what those who think like him will have to contend with is the imperial indoctrination of the people in these countries, which has become imperial amnesia. The focus may be on the imperial loot now placed in western museums, but the tragedies inflicted on these countries was even worse. Who can forget Jallianwala Bagh in India or the Mau Mau massacre in the 1950s? There was also the brutal British air bombing campaign in Iraq in the 1920s. It is worth noting that many of these acts were perpetrated when Sir. Winston Churchill was either the colonial secretary or the Prime Minister. Yet, even today he is universally celebrated in the West as somebody who stood up to Hilter and fascism. Therefore, a genuine apology from the British is as likely to happen as the sun rising in the west. The only way to effect a return of the imperial loot would be to deny market access to British companies, which might have undesirable economic consequences.

G. Parameswaran,


One of the earliest slang words to enter the English language was the word “loot”, which is “derived from the Hindi lūt. Over the years, collectors and museums have helped themselves to artistic riches from India, China, Greece and even the South American civilisations. In modern times the theft of artefacts has become a sophisticated international operation. Every time we lose an artefact, we are losing a piece of our heritage. The treatment of indigenous people has been another shameful aspect of colonial rule.

H.N. Ramakrishna,


It is fine to be talking about artefacts. But who will apologise in India for the socio-economic exploitation of Dalits in the past two millennia? And it continues in modern India. We have to look at the logbook in our land before making comments about other things.

Oscar Priyanand,


It is unfortunate that India seems to be waging a diplomatic campaign to reclaim the Koh-i-noor and other artefacts. There were many reasons why these artefacts were transported into Britain. Their security could have been one, as India was in a state of utter chaos at that time. The other reason could have been lack of facilities to house such artefacts — India did not build its first museum until 1814.

Now that India has all the modern facilities as well as a robust rule of law to look after these artefacts, should Britain repatriate them permanently? The answer must be no because there is an alternative. Since these artefacts, including the Koh-i-noor diamond, had ‘lived’ in Britain for over 100 years, is it not time they are treated as “dual nationals”? As “dual nationals”, these artefacts belong to both Britain and India, as well as be shared among institutions that have invested enormously in their maintenance and care.

Randhir Singh Bains,

Essex, United Kingdom

Milan Kundera

With the passing of Milan Kundera, a voice which was in pursuit of existential angst and an alternative reality of life has fallen silent. He has been eternalised through his works, which are reflections on human predicament.

J. Radhakrishna Kurup,

Ettumanoor, Kottayam, Kerala

The reading movement

I regret that my age and disability do not permit me to be an active member of the great movement (‘Magazine’ section, “India’s silent reading movement”, July 9) as I have been a life-long lover of books. I also buy books now and then which I think my 19-year-old grandson, who is studying law, would like to read.

While going through the accompanying photographs, I was struck by the uncomfortable poses in which almost everyone was settled to read. It is essential that people sit in comfortable folding seats so that they can hold their books at the right angle. Reading hunched over the book,or lying down while holding the book aloft for long periods is bound to affect the backbone and eyesight in the long run. I hope that someone designs a lightweight stainless steel frame chair (which will not get corroded), with firm cushions, so that enthusiastic readers enjoy their tryst with their favourite books.

R. Krishnan,


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