The Archaeological Survey of India’s digging-for-gold exercise in a village in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, following a priest’s claim that Raja Ram Baksh Singh visited him in his dream and informed him of the 1000 tonnes of gold lying underneath his dilapidated fort, is absurd (“A golden dream,” Oct. 22).
Is it not a bizarre and useless exercise? It is a pity that in the age of advanced science and technology, superstitions play an important role in our country. Such a wasteful act only shows that it is easy to eliminate ignorance but difficult to eradicate erroneously held beliefs. What is the guarantee that if the gold is retrieved, a sizeable amount will not go into the kitty of our greedy politicians?
There is no dearth of babas and superstitions in India. Many follow them blindly; some are even prepared to jump into the fire. However, the government itself participating in the excavation of gold not on the basis of logic, rationale or research but on the basis of a priest’s dream is ridiculous.
What kind of message does the government want to convey to society, especially the unemployed youth? Should they rely on windfall instead of human labour and hard work? Kshirasagara Balaji Rao,
The ASI should encourage spirit of enquiry. What every Indian must mourn is the loss of a scientific temper. Whether gold is found is irrelevant.
Ramesh Raj Katta,
It is possible that the priest ‘conveniently’ dreamt of the hidden treasure or that the story was made up and circulated after the ASI began its excavation. A senior official is reported to have rubbished the claim of a dream having forced the organisation into action. Which is not to say that our modern, secular state institutions are above following such a lead. In fact, the public expression of surprise and outrage is strange given that most of the State run institutions, including those in the service of science, have established a culture and regime of superstitious and sectarian customs serviced necessarily through a priestly class and it is diligently followed by the highest functionaries on various public occasions.
Thanks to the 1000-tonnes-hidden-gold-dream drama, the rather obscure organisation, ASI, has captured people’s imagination. Seldom are the excavations carried out with absolute certainty of a find. Let us not be so sceptical about the ASI’s efforts. The haste is probably to prevent the locals from indulging in crude excavation practices that can destroy the fort itself.
Let us drop the gold angle for a while. I am sure there is plenty of drama left — with all the credit-taking and blame-game to follow — once the excavations are over.