Saturday, March 7, 2009

Liquor baron wins over Gandhi

PHOTO: Items owned by Mahatma Gandhi on display before being auctioned in New York on Thursday. — Reuters
Liquor baron wins over Gandhi BY Ashish Kumar Sen/Vibha Sharma
Washington/New Delhi, March 6 Footprints
Sandals were given to a British army officer in Aden in 1931  The dinner bowl and pocket watch believed to have been given to niece and personal secretary Abha  The rimmed spectacles were probably given to the Nawab of Junagadh Surprise Bidder
 Former Test cricketer Dilip Rasiklal Doshi  Based in UK, Doshi’s company Entrack trades in international brands like Mont Blanc Successful Bidder
 Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, also the owner of Kingfisher Airlines  Mallya’s United Breweries is believed to have lost 79 pc of its market value since Sept 2007

IN an ironical twist, it was left to liquor baron Vijay Mallya to bid over Rs. 10 crore ( $2 million), which includes the commission to be paid to the auction house in New York, to buy the lot of personal belongings of Mahatma Gandhi that were put on auction by Los Angeles-based filmmaker and pacifist, James Otis. Mallya, who had at an earlier auction in London paid Rs. 4 crore for the sword of Tipu Sultan, yesterday paid two and a half times that amount to take home a pair of sandals, a Zenith pocket watch, a plate, bowl and the spectacles that Mahatma Gandhi is claimed to have used. The irony was not lost on people because the Mahatma considered consumption of alcohol to be a major social evil and had consistently urged for a ban on drinking. In deference to the Mahatma, the Indian Constitution carries the goal of Prohibition as a directive principle of state policy. Mallya, who was in France and kept in constant touch with his representative in the US, Tony Bedi, contradicted union minister Ambika Soni and claimed that his bid was not prompted by the Government of India or Indian officials. Speaking to a TV channel, Mallya held that he was emotionally satisfied at successfully retrieving the personal belongings of the Mahatma. “ We have been able to procure them through Vijay Mallya, who was in touch with us,” said an elated Soni, minister of culture in Dr. Manmohan Singh’s government. India could not have directly taken part in the auction as there was a restraining order of the Delhi High Court, she explained. While Bedi told The Tribune that the personal items could be sold to the Government of India, if it wanted to pay for them, Mallya indicated his plan to gift them to the government. He wanted the items to be displayed in a museum in either Bangaluru or Mysore. In a will prepared apparently in February, 1940, the Mahatma had declared Ahmedabad-based Navjivan Trust, founded by him in 1929, to be his heirs. “ While I do think I have any property, anything which by social convention or law is considered mine, I endow to the Navjivan Institution,” reads part of the will, claimed Managing Trustee Jitendra Desai. He had no clue as to the authenticity of the items or how they found their way into the possession of Otis. The spectacles and the watch, however, bore striking resemblance to the ones used by the Mahatma, he said in Ahmedabad. Bedi told The Tribune, “ My instructions were clear. I was not to lose this auction to a foreign bidder under any circumstances.” Initially Mallya had put a cap on what Bedi could bid. But later, recalled Bedi, Mallya pulled out all stops. New York hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal had earlier expressed an interest in bidding for the collection. But Bedi apparently told him that it would then be Chatwal’s responsibility to win the auction and pay for the items to be shipped to India. Watch director and auctioneer Julien Schaerer, told The Tribune that he had detected a more than usual interest in the auction from the Indian American community. This was possibly due to the fact that Gandhi was a man of few worldly possessions. CREDIT TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

Café to 'desi lassi' of Rajasansi , AMRITSAR

A small township Rajasansi -, a residence of the erstwhile Sandhanwalia family situated at the Ajnala Pargana, 1 km northwest of Amritsar, on the Amritsar Ajnala Road. It was founded in the year 1570 A.D. by a Jat Raja of Sansi tribe, and hence named Rajasansi . The Sandhawalias - the rulers of Rajasansi - had built a palace --a majestic building of historical significance — known as Sandhanwalia Haveli now is proposed to be renovated as a tourist site . the township has three mosques, a temple, a tehsil building, a civil hospital and a sarai. The population of the village, as per the 2001 Census, is 12,200. The village has been the hub of handicrafts. Many artisans still weave carpets on handlooms in their houses. PHOTO BY RAJIV SHARMA CAFE TO "DESI LASSI" OF RAJASANSI UN takes Amritsar on world map, Rajasansi under its wing RASHMI TALWAR AMRITSAR (RAJASANSI) MARCH 2009------
Plush cushioned seating, ambience of ancient palaces are likely to convert into ultra-modern cafes intact with the old world charm of the Maharajas, if the central government 's ambitious plan of United Nations Development New Country Programme (UNDNCP) transforms into reality . The idea is to Combine Rajasansi's traditional with the modern for a complete experience of "Punjab" in true blue-blood royal luxury with cultural and historical snippets thrown in for an unforgettable experience by tourists from all corners of the world. If it be thus ---gossamer lights would highlight the kaleidoscope of multi-colored rich Phulkari tapestry , glistening unsheathed swords would share space with tiny dices that saw many a king wager his kingdom, delicate jingle of colored bangles combine with this the tall brass glasses of famous Punjabi yogurt or "desi lassi" to guests – and it is sure shot hit with tourists from world over . The state government selected the historical village of Rajasansi, about 11 km from the holy city of Amritsar, for the Central Government UNDNC Programme at an estimated cost of Rs 28 crore that is aimed for renovation of the old palace of Rajasansi, setting up of tourist information centres, kala Kendras for artisans, beautification of surroundings which include glow-illumination of historical buildings besides improving civic infrastructure . the proximity of the Rajasansi International Airport is an added advantage as it offers the weary passenger a breather that not only promises to relax but is feast for the eyes . Adapted from an article from The Tribune