Jag Venugopal's Blog

June 21, 2011

Secret Agent 007 Infiltrates Indian FinMin’s Offices

Filed under: India — Jag @ 6:10 pm

From the Wall Street Journal:

The evidence: The discovery of 16 “planted adhesives” in ministry offices in North Block in September last year that “suggested a possible surveillance attempt”.

Now you might think about who the perpetrator was. Some enemies that come to mind are:

  • Punjab terrorists trying to rebound?
  • Pakistan’s ISI?
  • Lashkar E Tayyaba?
  • Chinese spies?

The Indian Finance Ministry hired private guns to investigate this serious breach. Eventually, the Intelligence Bureau got in on the investigation:

The Intelligence Bureau, which presumably knows a thing or two … concluded that the substance was a “sort of chewing gum.”

Next up — the Indian Home Ministry investigates large-scale deaths due to Dihydrogen Oxide ingestion each year between June and September.


June 17, 2011

Sathya Sai Baba’s personal chambers, gold and money

Filed under: India — Jag @ 2:47 am

News is that approximately Rs. 120 Million (12 Crores), 98 kilograms of gold and 307 kilograms of silver were found in Sathya Sai Baba’s personal chambers. The rooms were recently unlocked after the death of the godman in April.

Now before skeptics start frothing at the mouth, asking why someone had so much cash and precious metal in their personal chambers, I’d like to offer a few explanations that are entirely plausible:

  1. He materialized them: Sathya Sai Baba has been known to materialize gold chains, watches, etc. as miracles. It is quite possible that he had materialized the gold. The gold might have made its way into various gifts for devotees, had it not been for the intervening hospitalization. The 120 Million Rupees might have gotten him into trouble with the Reserve Bank — theoretically, he would be a counterfeiter. But the Reserve Bank of India had likely consented to his materializing it, under the doctrine of divine omnipotency.
  2. He was keeping the ashram’s gold holdings safe: What better place to keep it safe from thieving officials than in the sanctum sanctorum?
  3. It was a gift from someone: And he just didn’t have time to deposit it in the bank yet. Who knows, it might have been a gift from the Sultan of Brunei, a connoiseur of the yellow metal.
  4. It was an inflation hedge: The Sathya Sai trusts run many charitable organizations that likely consume a huge amount of money. With inflation rampant in India, he was not altogether comfortable with all the wealth in Indian Rupees, and wanted to construct an inflation hedge through precious metal investment.
  5. Glenn Beck’s fan: Perhaps he was an avid viewer of Glenn Beck’s show on Fox.
  6. It might have been planted: Forces oppsed to Sathya Sai Baba might have planted the gold and money in there with a view to discrediting him. This might have happened after he left for hospital on his way to his mahasamadhi.

Update: This case bears superficial resemblance to the discovery of $22 Billion in underground vaults at a south Indian temple. But both cases are poles apart. In the Travancore temple discovery, the gold there was deposited by the former rulers of Travancore over the centuries, and remained untouched by the ruling family, throughout the years. In other words, they gave it to the temple, and did not dip into it as their personal fund through the generations.

In contrast, what I’m sarcastically defending above is one megalomaniac “swami” who has hoarded gold, silver, cash, and reportedly dry fruits and hair spray for his own use from the donations of his gullible followers.


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