Saving Gandhi - The Honest Truth By Ajit Dayal
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6 MARCH 2009

The Ministry of External Affairs is busy saving the Mahatma by trying to find ways to get his glasses back.

Meanwhile, Mr. Vijay Mallya, a person who drinks, smokes, and loves living life king-size has bought the items on sale (Gandhi’s steel-rimmed eyeglasses, his watch; his wooden sandals, a brass bowl and a plate and the results of his blood test from Irwin Hospital in New Delhi) for USD 1.8 million. Not that I have anything against Mr. Mallya. He sounds like a fun sort of guy - but not like a typical Gandhi saviour.

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But looks can deceive. The people who actually wear khadi have turned out to be some of the most inhuman criminals in history.

..but first we killed him
I am not sure what the Mahatma thinks of being rescued by Mr. Mallya but, if he could talk he would probably have said - with an impish grin, "If I did not have a sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide."

Well, he didn’t have to commit suicide. We killed him. Not on January 30, 1948. The process of murdering the Mahatma probably started sometime before that. He was an icon that was conveniently used to win sympathy from the west and, hence, Independence. His usefulness to India declined after that. And the slow-death will end once we have convinced ourselves that the Mahatma was a mythical creature, like the Unicorn.

So, here we are in the year 2009. Busy saving people and philosophies that we have meticulously murdered.

The US is busy saving the bust banks, investment banks, and insurance companies from their wicked ways. The cost so far is about USD 2.5 trillion - but no one really knows this for sure. There are new bailouts, new packages, and new bills to be paid every day. The US government and the regulators helped create the monsters because of friendships, connections, and greed. They never asked the questions about risks and excessive pay. The GDP numbers were thriving. Who cared about anything else? Now that the banks are failing, they wish to save them all with tax payer money.

China is busy saving its horde of pretty worthless US Dollars. It gave the American consumers cheap and inexpensive toys, microwaves, and TVs. It added wealth to its people by creating jobs. It got US Dollars in return. But these may be as worthless as the mortgage loans the banks hold on their books. China has sold goods on credit to a sub-prime customer. Isn’t that one of the first principles of business: never give credit to someone who may not be able to pay you back? But who cared back then. The going was good. Now China is trying to sell its USD cash stash by buying into commodities and commodity-based companies.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of UK is busy saving the world from the opaque banking secrecy laws. It is these banks that operate behind a veil of secrecy that are responsible for the world’s problems. Really? As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Brown shielded the hedge funds from calls for more transparency by the European Union. The Europeans are shaking their head in disbelief. The man who caused the problem and helped murder the principles of sound finance, is now wearing the cloak of a saviour.

A way of life
And so we shake our head in disbelief that the Government of India is busy rescuing the objects that Gandhi used in his daily life.

For decades, the Mahatma was a convenient vote-catching gimmick. Everyone wore khadi to look like him. But they were spinning deals on the side. Deals for money. Or deals to buy votes.

There is no need to buy the Mahatma’s glasses, bowls, or sandals. Those were things that he used. Let them be owned by whoever wants to buy them.

What the government should be doing is rescuing his principles; his honesty; his legacy of tolerance.

Instead of trying to spend USD 1.8 million to buy the articles that the Mahatma used, the government should use that money to vet every application for a Lok Sabha seat. To ensure that the person standing for election is indeed a fit and proper person. Give that money to the Election Commission, let them hire more staff to review the applications.

And, if there is any money left, please send some money across to buy the battered shares on Dalal Street. Every paisa will help! Ouch.

Note: The Honest Truth is authored by Ajit Dayal. Ajit is a Director at Quantum Advisors Pvt Ltd and Quantum Asset Management Company Pvt Ltd.. Views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author and may not be regarded as views of the Quantum Mutual Fund or Quantum Asset Management Company Private Limited.


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