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The waves

As the Wind Blows

Location: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

08 April 2004

Different strokes

There are times when I feel my output of writing is slowing down. I attribute it partly to a kind of ennui setting in – I don’t know if it happens to all pen / keyboard pushers at one point or the other. Ploughing words for years at a stretch, suddenly you feel at a loss of words / ideas. Sometimes you feel you have been talking for too long and want to have some peaceful moments. But then, peace is a quicksilver commodity that keeps eluding you – the moment you think you have got it, you find it slipping by somewhere right under your nose.

So even in those moments when I imagine I’m in peace, not chasing deadlines, my mind is constantly worked up by the ideas that I didn’t follow up J either way it is a lose-lose (opposite to win-win?) game J

And when you find stories woven from any strand of news, you can’t help appreciating the different perspectives seen from different angles.

At least I did when I read two stories on two national treasures. One on Tagore’s missing Nobel prize and the other on Tippu Sultan’s famed sword. While the former story tried to explore the economic implications of the lost Nobel prize, the other documented the restoration of the historic sword back in its rightful place – Karnataka, albeit in the private custody of Vijay Mallya.

Vikram Doctor wrote a piece in Economic Times, on the recent theft of Tagore’s Nobel prize. If I found his idea to explore the economic implications of the theft intriguing, the actual info on the cost analysis was quite interesting.

Consider this : The prize itself weighs 200 gms. If the worst fears of everyone turn true, the thief would have melted the prize and got a grand sum of about Rs. 1,12, 000 in today’s market. The CBI has announced a cash reward of Rs. 10 lakh for information of the lost National ‘honour”. CBI hopes that the thief would be attracted by the bait of Rs. 10 lakh and would return the Prize. After all, isn’t the compensation a great deal lucrative than the market worth of the 200 gms of the yellow metal?

But, the story shows why CBI is wrong. Mr. Jeffrey Schramek, a Chicago based dealer, who also has the only Nobel for sale in the world, (the physics prize awarded to Sir James Chadwick in 1935 for discovering neutron) pegs the value somewhere around $ 500,000 !!! That translates to a whopping amount of Indian Rs. 2,25,00,000 – a far cry from the amount offered as reward by the government !! That is in the black market. “..In a public auction, I could see it bringing double of this.” Avers the Chicago dealer.

There can be no prize tags for such treasures. Nor is India a rich country to offer such huge sacks of cash for the stolen national treasure. But then, even in plain speak of economic calculations, do you get a fair idea of what we lost?

Or what we failed to preserve??


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