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Millennium Post

All that glitters is your dreams

Looks like the reputation of the Archaeological Survey of India hangs by a sadhu’s dream. All the brouhaha and theatre of absurd unfolding on the national stage after all point to India’s longstanding love affair with gold, which, until now, had been unfairly pushing up the imports, sending precious foreign exchange flying out of the window and widening the current account deficit. However, if that wasn’t enough, the country has been brought to its supine knees after a holy man’s hallucinations set our collective imagination ablaze and gold-digging became a national pastime, usurping cricket for a good measure of days. Even if the high farce or incredible miracle, whichever way you would want to put it, of a saint’s vision seeing hidden gold treasure worth several lakhs of crores turns out to have a happy ending, it is baffling that an institution as prestigious as the ASI would resort to a treasure-hunt so dramatic on the basis of something so flimsy. Certainly, if the ASI has more evidence to back up the sadhu’s claims, it is very welcome. But to involve the government and carry out a massive excavation operation at Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh’s fort in Unnao because Shobhan Sarkar had apparently dreamt that 1,000 tonnes of gold was buried in the remains of the fort situated in Daundia Kheda village is ludicrous, to say the least.

While the whole country eagerly watches the gold-digging unfold on prime time television, with pundits and anchors regurgitating pent up gold dreams of their own and projecting them on the findings at Unnao, what remains unchanged is India’s proclivity towards superstitions, unverified beliefs and blind faith. Only months back was the anti-superstition activist Narendra Dhabolkar gunned down in Pune. While it is very well to cheer for plurality of faith, beliefs and religious self-expressions, it is equally true that the likes of Asaram and other self-styled godmen exploit this trait running in the Indian multitude and make crores of rupees out of it. Already, the dreams of the seer that led to the expensive gold hunt have come under heavy criticism, and India is poised to become a global laughing stock in case the hunt ends in nothing, which is most likely going to be the case. But will India learn a lesson if all this drama comes to nothing? Perhaps not. It will wait for another seer to dream of gold, as if that were the only way to cater for not only our unending greed for the yellow metal, but also to fix the economy, shore up the rupee and cut down the imports. It is worth remembering her that in his Sonar Kella, Satyajit Ray had elaborated on the same theme. Only the titular golden fort was made of yellow sandstone!
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