British Raj-era family keen to return priceless Indian artefacts
Iain Shore is keen to return a silver rose-bowl dated 1906 found in a family chest that was unopened for decades.Updated: Sep 30, 2018 13:00 IST
There is little prospect of the return of priceless Indian artefacts currently with Britain’s royal family, museums and people whose ancestors served the British Raj, but one such family is keen to give back an item discovered in a newly opened chest.
Iain Shore, whose ancestors include John Shore, the governor general of India during 1793-1797, returned a set of instruments used by another ancestor, engineer Arthur Garrett, during the restoration of Jaipur’s Jantar Mantar in 1902, to the Albert Hall Museum in 2016.
Shore is now keen to return a silver rose bowl dated 1906, which was found in a family chest that lay unopened for decades. It was presented to another ancestor, a soldier in the 35th Sikhs, the infantry regiment in the British Indian Army that saw action in several wars and conflicts. It eventually became the Sikh Regiment after 1947.
The rose bowl with a black wooden plinth bears the badge of the 35th Sikhs, with signatures inscribed of every officer of the regiment in 1906. It was presented to a captain, Shore’s great-uncle, GWG Lindesay, who was the brother-in-law of Major Arthur Garrett.
The chest was with Shore’s maternal uncle, Nicholas Lindesay Lyons, the last survivor of the generation who knew Lindesay. Being very frail, he expressed a "strong desire" that the rose bowl be returned to the Sikh Regiment in India.
“He considers the Sikh Regiment to be its natural home, where it can be seen, used and enjoyed by the officers of that historic, illustrious, honourable and battle-hardened band of brothers. One never leaves the regiment in which one has served - it is always in your blood,” Shore, himself a former army officer, said on Friday.
"It is my belief that much of India's history was removed from India. As far as my family is concerned, I feel a personal debt to the country which gave so many of my family birth and infant nurture. I should like to return whatever I have, which is of historical significance, so that it can be enjoyed in the place where it belongs.”
Based near Bristol in southwest England, Shore is keen to travel to Ramgarh in Jharkhand to present the historic item to officials of the Sikh Regimental Centre, just as he went to Jaipur in 2016 to return Garrett’s instruments to much local interest.
“India is our home, really. It is in our bones, our hearts. We always felt alien in England,” said Shore, whose family's India links go back nearly 250 years. He is married to Gujarati-origin Kshama.
“Neither of my parents went back to India after 1944, they were dismayed by the terrible events of Partition, and by the descent of Pakistan into seemingly intractable pseudo-religious stupidity and disastrous corruption.
“But they were later buoyed by India's climb to progress and modernity after the neo-communist dalliances of (former prime minister Jawaharlal) Nehru had been discredited and ditched by his successors.”
First Published: Sep 30, 2018 12:14 IST