March 07, 2009

Liquor Money for Prohibition Relics

The use of Mr Vijay Mallya's wealth -- that has been generated by selling liquor in India -- to recover the relics belonging to MK Gandhi -- one of India's most ardent anti-liquor prohibitionists -- reveals the hypocrisy that is endemic to the Indian psyche.

But first let us thank Mr Mallya who has made us proud for (a) being rich enough to have told the NRI crowd that we in India do not need them to fund our petty desires and (b) being generous enough to have the magnanimity to donate these relics to the government.

Now for the hypocrisy :

First, let me state up front that I am no blind idolatrous fan of MK Gandhi. He was a shrewd and cunning politician and many people have raised serious doubts about (a) his real contribution to the cause of India's independence and (b) the real depth and substance of his moral postures and (c) the efficacy of his much vaunted philosophy of Ahimsa and Non-Violence. No real debate on this issues is possible because his supporters have a Talibanisque attitude of being impervious to logic and reason. They practice blind idolatry and they will not allow anyone to be anything otherwise.

Second, it is claimed that these relics were never sold but gifted and hence it is immoral to sell these in an auction and make profits. We may never really know the circumstances under which these relics left the family but I would be hard put to believe that the family members derived no benefits from the transactions. It may not have been a cash transaction -- and hence technically not a sale -- but we in India are no stranger to non-cash transactions ! Favours, influence, positions and posts might -- or must -- have been used as the currency which was exchanged when these relics changed hands but only when Otis -- who happened to be the last owner -- was frank enough to monetise the process, the Gandhi clan woke with this uproar !

Finally do we need these pitiable relics at all ? Even if you regard and revere MK Gandhi -- which I do not -- go ahead, build a school and teach people about his life, his work and his ideas. Why pay Rs 10 crores to a shady dealer for these trivia ? Does anybody benefit at all from this ?

But no, we are nation led by hypocrites who believe in tokenism. Led by people who would throw a tantrum about paying for Gandhi's spectacles but would not like to see the world through the same .... and unfortunately, to humour such people, Mr Mallya has to pull out the small change from his back pocket ....

Enough of rancour, let me end with three cheers for Mr Mallya and his liquor that keeps some of us in good humour.

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