UK govt imposes export ban on Tipu Sultan’s rare sporting gun, calls it a ‘significant antiquity in its own right’

News Network
May 29, 2023

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London, May 29: A rare 18th century decorated gun made in India for Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, and valued at around GBP 2 million, has been barred from export to allow time for a UK-based institution to acquire it for the public study of a "fraught period" in the India-UK history.

UK Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Stephen Parkinson took the decision last week to impose the export ban on the “Flintlock Sporting Gun” following advice from the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA).

The 14-bore gun, dated between 1793 and 1794, was designed for shooting game and is signed by its maker Asad Khan Muhammed.

This British colonial-era firearm is said to have been “presented to General the Earl Cornwallis”, who previously fought Tipu Sultan between 1790 and 1792.

“This visually striking firearm is a significant antiquity in its own right, as well as an illustration of the important, interconnected history between Britain and India,” said Lord Parkinson.

“I hope that it can be shared with the widest possible public and used to deepen our understanding of a fraught period which shaped both our nations,” he said.

Famously known as the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan was a defiant opponent of the British East India Company and its allies during the Anglo-Mysore Wars.

He was killed on May 4, 1799, while defending his stronghold of Seringapatam and several exquisite items from that siege have come up on the auction circuit over the years – most recently his Bedchamber Sword which sold for a record-breaking GBP 14 million at Bonhams auction house in London.

Following the killing of Tipu Sultan, his distinctive personal weapons were taken from the palace and given to leading British military figures of the time.

The RCEWA found the gun to be of aesthetic importance as well as significant to the study of Tipu Sultan and his court, Lord Cornwallis and British history, and the conclusion of the third Anglo-Mysorean war.

“This is the finest and most elaborately decorated of the personal firearms made for Tipu Sultan, ruler of Mysore, a large state in South India. Dated 1793-4, this fourteen-bore gun was designed for shooting game and is signed by Asad Khan Muhammad.

It is extremely beautiful as well as technically advanced,” said Committee Member Christopher Rowell.

“The mechanism allows two shots to be fired from the single barrel without reloading, revealing the probable influence of itinerant French gunmakers. Tipu’s court was sophisticated and its workshops produced a variety of fine metalwork including weaponry and ordnance, which was stylish as well as deadly,” he said.

Rowell elaborates how he was fascinated by Western technical innovations, including rocketry, but his leanings towards France antagonised Britain, which waged four wars against Mysore.

In 1799, he was killed as the British army overran the capital of Seringapatam.

“This superbly executed sporting gun was presented to General Earl Cornwallis, victor of the previous war against Tipu in 1790-2, which had forced the Sultan to cede half his territory. Tipu was known as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’ and his personal emblems are ubiquitous, from the tiger with brass-inlaid eyes carved into the hardwood stock to the stylised tiger stripes inlaid in silver along the blued steel barrel. One of the silver mounts depicts a tiger attacking European soldiers, an image redolent of ‘Tipu’s Tiger’ in the V&A [Victoria & Albert Museum],” noted Rowell.

“Given its aesthetic significance, its impeccable provenance, its scope for further research and its relevance to both British and Indian history, I hope that this superb fowling piece made for the unfortunate ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, will be acquired by a British Institution where it can be appreciated by all,” he added.

The chiselled gun inlaid with gold and silver has a length of 138 cm and is made of hardwood stock, is carved, has silver mounts and a steel barrel.

The decision on the export licence application for the gun will be deferred for a period ending on September 25 following which any offers will be considered by the unnamed owners of the gun.

The RCEWA is an independent body serviced by the Arts Council England, which advises the UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria.

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News Network
June 7,2024

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New Delhi: Narendra Modi - to be sworn in Sunday as a three-term Prime Minister after Chandrababu Naidu's TDP and Nitish Kumar's JDU dragged his BJP past the 272-seat majority mark - mocked eternal rivals Congress for failing to win as many seats in this election. The Congress, he declared, had yet again failed to cross the 100-seat mark and won fewer seats in three elections than the BJP had in one.

Mr Modi - whose party finished with 240 seats, its lowest return in 15 years - also said "we were neither defeated nor are we defeated" and claimed, "Our values are such we do not develop frenzy during victory and do not mock the defeated. We do not have perversion of mocking the defeated."

Mr Modi then taunted his rivals over their poor electoral performance.

"Even after 10 years Congress could not touch the figure of 100 seats. If we combine the 2014, 2019, and 2024 elections... Congress did not even get as many seats as BJP got in this election. I can clearly see people of INDI Alliance (the BJP's jibe at the INDIA bloc) were sinking slowly earlier... now they are going to sink at a faster pace..." the Prime Minister-designate proclaimed.

The Congress, which led the INDIA opposition bloc in this election, finished with 99 wins from the 328 seats it contested. That was the party's best result in 15 years; it won 44 in 2014 and 52 in 2019.

The last time the party scored in the triple digits was in 2009 when it won 206 seats and propelled former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the United Progressive Alliance to a second term.

Mr Modi's jibe, though, may be premature, for the Congress could still hit the 100-mark if Vishal Patil, a party rebel who contested and won from Maharashtra's Sangli, re-joins the party.

In a post on X this morning, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said, "Welcoming the support of elected MP from Sangli, Shri Vishal Patil to the Congress party".

In a lengthy speech that included multiple jabs and jibes at the Congress and the opposition, Mr Modi also made a pitch for governance by consensus and coalition politics. "Our alliance reflects the spirit of India and we are dedicated to upholding constitutional values. NDA is the most successful..."

"When I was speaking in this House in 2019 you chose me as the leader. Then I emphasised one thing... trust. Today, when you are giving me this role again, it means the bridge of trust between us is strong. This relationship is built on a strong foundation... and that is its biggest asset."

The remarks are seen as acknowledgement of his reliance on allies - new territory after enjoying brute majorities in 2014 and 2019. The BJP needs the support of Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar. Mr Naidu's TDP and the JDU of Nitish Kumar are seen as kingmakers after the TDP and JDU won 28 seats; take those away and the NDA does not have the numbers to form the government.

"The mandate of 2024 is strengthening one thing again and again - the country trusts only NDA. When there is such unbreakable trust, it is natural for expectations to increase. This is good...I said earlier past 10 years were a trailer. It was not an election statement, it was my commitment..."

"For me, all leaders of all parties are equal in Parliament. When we talk about 'sabka prayaas', for us, everyone is equal, whether from our party or not. This is why NDA is strong in past 30 years..."

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Agencies
June 19,2024

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Bengaluru: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar on Wednesday did not rule out the possibility of contesting the Channapatna Assembly bypoll, as he maintained that he will have to abide by the "decision" of the party and voters of the segment.

"Channapatna is in my heart. Channapatna is also the place that gave me political birth," Shivakumar, also the state Congress chief, told reporters ahead of his visit to the town in the neighbouring Ramanagara district.

Channapatna bypoll is necessitated as the seat fell vacant following the election of its representative -- JD(S) leader and now Union Minister H D Kumaraswamy - to Lok Sabha in the recent elections.

The byelection schedule for this Assembly seat is yet to be announced by the Election Commission.

"Channapatna was also part of Sathanur earlier (the erstwhile segment represented by Shivakumar). I love Channapatna, I want to help Channapatna. I want to change Channapatna," Shivakumar said.

Asked whether his brother and former MP D K Suresh will be contesting from Channapatna, he said, "That is not decided. More or less, I'm asking the votes for myself."

Though there were talks earlier that Suresh, who lost from Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha segment in the recent elections, may be fielded in Channapatna, speculations are now rife in political circles, especially the grand old party, that Shivakumar may enter the fray to avenge his brother's defeat and to re-establish his clout in the region.

According to sources, if Shivakumar contests and wins from Channapatna, he may vacate the Kanakapura Assembly seat that he currently represents for Suresh.

Both Channapatna and Kanakapura are part of the Vokkaliga dominated Ramanagara district, which comes under the Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha segment from where Kumaraswamy's brother-in-law and eminent cardiologist C N Manjunath won as a BJP candidate as part of arrangement between alliance partners BJP and JD(S), by defeating Suresh.

"Channapatana gave me political birth. For four times I have won in a hobli from Channapatna that came under my Assembly constituency. People there have blessed me," Shivakumar said.

"Even during the difficult times people (of Channapatna) have given us about 80,000 votes (in the recent Lok Sabha elections)," he said. "I have to repay the debt I owe to the people there by bringing in a change there. There is an opportunity to do more development there than what I have done in Kanakapura."

Stating that he is visiting temples in Channapatna to offer prayers to the gods who have blessed him, Shivakumar said he will then speak to the voters there, and listen to what voters and leaders there say. "Based on that I will decide."

On what he will do, if people want him to contest, he said: "there is no other way. I will have to listen to what my party and voters say." BJP MLC C P Yogeeshwara is said to be one of the probable candidates for Channapatna bypoll from BJP-JD(S) alliance.

Kumaraswamy's actor-turned-politician son Nikhil Kumaraswamy's name is also doing the rounds. Nikhil had lost the 2023 Assembly polls from neighbouring Ramanagara.

Kumaraswamy of JD(S) had won Channapatna in 2018 and 2023. Before that Yogeeshwara had represented the seat from BJP and Samajwadi Party. He had earlier also represented the seat both as an independent and from the Congress party.

Shivakumar has been representing the Kanakapura segment since 2008.

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News Network
June 12,2024

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At least 30 workers were among dozens killed in a massive fire that broke out in a building housing workers in the city of Mangaf in southern Kuwait early Wednesday. According to the Health Ministry, the blaze also injured nearly 50 workers.

In a post on X, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences to the families of those killed in the fire. "The fire mishap in Kuwait City is saddening. My thoughts are with all those who have lost their near and dear ones. I pray that the injured recover at the earliest. The Indian Embassy in Kuwait is closely monitoring the situation and working with the authorities there to assist the affected," he said.

Condoling the deaths, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said he was "deeply shocked" and that the Indian ambassador had gone to the camp.

"Deeply shocked by the news of the fire incident in Kuwait City. There are reportedly over 40 deaths and over 50 have been hospitalised. Our Ambassador has gone to the camp. We are awaiting further information," he said in a post on X.

Jaishankar further expressed condolences to the victims' families and wished the injured people early and full recovery.

Meanwhile, the Indian ambassador in Kuwait Adarsh Swaika met a number of injured workers and assured them of full assistance from the Embassy, the Indian embassy in Kuwait posted on X.

The Indian embassy has also put out an emergency helpline number and has people to connect over the helpline for updates.

"In connection with the tragic fire accident involving Indian workers today, Embassy has put in place an emergency helpline number: +965-65505246. All concerned are requested to connect over this helpline for updates. Embassy remains committed to render all possible assistance," the Indian embassy in Kuwait posted on X.

Action against owner

The building, which accommodates over 195 labourers from the nearby commercial area, housed people from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and North India. The building belongs to NBTC group owned by Malayali businessman KG Abraham. Employees at NBTC's supermarket also lived in the building.

Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister Fahad Yusuf Al-Sabah visited the site and ordered a police inquiry in the matter. He has instructed the police to detain the owner of the building, its janitor, and the employer of the workers living there until the conclusion of the criminal investigation into the fire. 

He has also directed the Kuwait Municipality and the Public Authority for Manpower to take immediate action to address similar violations, where a large number of workers are crowded into residential buildings. 

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