18500 GBP for Gandhi letters? What a waste of taxpayers money

WTF were they thinking? This is entirely a media created mistake: they hyped up the fact that the Gandhi letter was going to be auctioned at Christies to such an extent, that the purchase of Gandhi’s last letter became almost a face-saving exercise for the government. Of course, the ministers who make these decisions don’t lose anything — you and I do.

The taxpayer lost 18500 GBP for a letter that has historical significance, but wont put food on the table (unless sold).

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4 Comments

  1. Interesting to know you think it is a waste of money ūüôā

    A BBC documentary about India telecast on Monday showed the Infy campus where a 12-year old building is considered ‘heritage’ and new, modern buildings built on top of an ancestral cemetery.

    The whole Christie’s transaction is no different from the Adele Bauer saga that has now removed the painting from Vienna and put in on the wall in New York and meanwhile someone pocketed $135M for being the relatives of the woman in the picture.

    Weighing with money, we learn the price of everything and the value of nothing. Such is our regard for our historic and cultural artefacts that soon more will be found outside India in private homes than in India accessible to the public even if occasionally..

  2. And anyway whose table was the money going to put food on? My bottom dollar is on the money having alternatively made its way to lining the bank accounts of Mayawati Ben/ Sharad Pawar/ Patil President lady/ fill your favourite politician’s name here…

  3. I’m not a fan of Gandhi, the way most of this country is brought up to be, but that aside, I was employing one of his own criteria for judgment in a different context: he’d written once about the different ways of perceiving truth, and said that to judge whether an action is right or wrong, think of the poorest man (in today’s world he’d probably have had to say “person”) you can think of, and if your action benefits him, then it is right. Or something on those lines.

    That letter is going to be hidden away in some hardly-ever-visited building, and rarely read. It’s probably better to spend that money on photocopies, and distribute them in schools and colleges.

    If the government was concerned about heritage, they’d do something about the illegal artifact trade and decaying monuments.

    About the politicians – that’s another debate, but even then it’s better for the money to stay within the country.

  4. Nikhil: Alas the problem with history – and ancestry – is that we cannot change it so whether we liked some people or not, we are stuck with them and their legacy.

    I agree with your citation about the poor man etc. But I doubt if this money would have been spent on anyone remotely poor anyway.

    As for access, demand it, why doesn’t everyone? If people were interested, they would act to make sure they have access… But I think not enough are interested.

    I once had a visitor in 1999 – an acquaintance’s wife – who said that Indians should give all their artefacts to people outside India; at least they keep them properly and let them be seen occasionally. I asked the woman, from a Bhadrolok type Calcutta family, if she had ever been to the Indian Museum in Calcutta. She said no but what was there to see anyway?

    I also know people who lived years in Bangalore but do not know where Vishveshvarayya Science Museum is located.

    Two samples do not a trend make but they provide good illustrations of the point, no?

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