Sanjukta Basu Live Blogging: the best in India

Blogging this as I watch this story closely on CNN IBN: *Satire alert*

12 am – This whole Gandhi Auction issue is such a ridiculous waste of national time and resources. We are such losers. Much like the screen Gandhi of Lage Raho Munnabhai, Gandhiji’s soul must have woken up with a startle with so much noise around his name and reading all about the issue he must be saying, “guys stop this drama, like you ever cared for anything I stood for. All you people ever did since the time I have been dead is to freeze me in various forms- statues, frames, trays, showcases, now what is the big deal if an American does the same?”

Don’t we already have these Gandhi Museums where they have kept the Gandhi items and photos etc? How does it matter if these few items are not there? These items are after all just symbolism, apart from reminding us of Gandhiji’s physical existence during the freedom struggle what else do they represent? If it is just about symbolism don’t we already have enough symbolic establishments in the country to remind us of his name.

What are we trying to prove by putting pressure on the legitimate owner of these items, Mr. Otis, to give up the auction. Why? Let him do what he wants to do, that is what Gandhiji would have said, right? For all we know, he would have given some more items to go up in auction, given his policy of offering the second side for same consequences after the first have been slapped. And its not like Mr. Otis is showing any kind of disrespect to the items. Auctions of precious antique items happen all the time all over the world, why are we being so paranoid about this issue.

The other thing I don’t understand is how did these items even end up being owned by Mr. Otis? They must have been either sold off to various people by Gandhiji’s own family members or Gandhiji must have gifted them away himself. Otis or Antiquariam couldn’t be pulling this auction unless they have checked the legality of the ownership, can they?

Now, all these years we were sleeping over the missing memorabilia, in 60 years time it never occurred to anybody where on earth did that famous spectacle go. Today, suddenly Mr. Tushar Gandhi rises up as this protector of the Gandhi pride, why did he not think of looking for Gandhiji’s missing items all these years? Or did he not even realize that the so called priceless national heritage were missing?

As I write this post I am watching this debate on CNN IBN on the matter. I see that the intelligent junta do get the point that the Government’s attempts to spend as much as USD300,000 of tax payer’s money is plain ridiculous. But our politicians wouldn’t get it, they are busy gaining political mileage out of the issue.

I am all for them taking legal recourse but spending that kind of money for symbolism is just not acceptable.

12.57 am – News just came:

Mr. Otis said he is officially pulling off from the auction. He made a formal request to Antiquariam to not put up the items for sale, says “I never intended this auction to be a center of controversy“, he also claims that he feels threatened and therefore pulling off.

Not sure what he meant by ‘felt threatened’ but threat would be a classic thing to use with regard to Gandhiji in any manner whatsoever.

01.08 am – Breaking news is that the High Court of Delhi has put the matter sub judice and therefor the items cannot be sold in the auction, the judgment has been validated by US department of Justice. However, the Chairman of Antiquariam still saying the auction would go on. The auction has actually already started, 30 min from now the items are expected to go under the hammer.

01.15 am – I realise am such a sucker that I am even missing out on my beauty sleep for this silly story but hey.

What is most interesting to me in this whole story is Mr. Otis’s offer to spend Gandhigiri in the world. Wow! Just beats me. And the fact that he even made the offer to the Indian Government is such a slap on our face. He said he will call off the auction if the Government met his demands of, increase the proportion of its budget spent on health care of the poor, shifting priorities from military spending.” He further wanted the Government of India “to offer its good offices of embassies and consulates, as well as other contacts in the Indian community, to facilitate events around the world that educate and promote awareness about Gandhian policy, the non violence and tolerance and all that. He wanted Indian Government to fund this tour he planned to do to 78 countries.

We really needed Mr. Otis to blackmail us for a cause, teach us Gandhigiri which we have long forgotten. What a shame. Who does he think he is to even make such a proposal. And the drama don’t stop there, he now says he is considering a 24 hours fast over this whole thing. Please be India’s guest Mr. Otis. We worship our guests. God forbid if you die doing that fast we would make statues for you too you know.

Over 10 min now they are running commercial:

Earlier, in the debate that I was watching, the other great grandson of Gandhiji held an opinion opposite to that of Mr. Tushar Gandhi. He says, Gandhiji didn’t belong to India alone that India should try to possess him. He belonged to the whole world. Good point.

01.34 am The auction is still on it seems. Antiquariam is not ready to stop the auction at the last minute. Tushar Gandhi, the savior of Gandhiji’s memorabilia, which he simply forgot even ever existed, is saying he will not give up the fight until each of those items are brought back to India. I don’t understand why these journalists don’t ask relevant questions? So far not one of them asked Tushar Gandhi if he made efforts to look for these items in the last 60 years?

1.40 am – I think am gonna hit the bed, I suspect the question whether the auction is on or off is already decided but the TV guys are not letting us know so that we’d be hooked on for some more time. Its like those suspense series you know, the phone rings rings and rings and right when the supposed victim picks it up, you get a “to be continued” board. CNN IBN has put up that board and running commercials now. I am not gonna suck up to this circus anymore.

Here’s my answer to the ‘Guess the ending and win a refrigerator’ contest, assuming there was one, the auction has been called off. There is no way Antiquariam can ignore the Delhi High Court order validated by US Dept of Justice.

Signing off

Oh fuck I lost the refrigerator even before I could switch off my TV. There goes my dreams of the coolest kulfi I have ever had. Ok sorry, I got lost.

01.49 am Breaking news, Gandhi Memorabilia sold for USD 1.8 million.

01.50 am – More breaking news – Guess who bagged the memorabilia, none other than our friendly neighbour hood Vijay Mallya. Wow this is like a Bollywood flick, when all hopes were shattered, when in that crowded auction hall the hammer fell in favour of a certain hat wearing man whose face cannot be seen but a vicious hand raising the bids haunted the Indian sentiments and when tears rolled down every Indian’s face, the camera turned towards the buyer, the man took off his hat and lo a son of the Indian soil has saved the nation.

Ok I know it was an online auction. Mallya is likely to handover the heritage to the Government of India. Vijay Mallya brings Gandhi back home. And if you wondering why he did this when his financial condition is not so great, well wait and see how the UB/Prestige share prices soars now.

Nevermind the fact that Mr. Mallya is an alcohol merchant, am sure Gandhiji would ignore that bit considering he is back home.

Uff, enough already.