There is rich irony in the fact that a liquor baron, who is described as the king of good times, has bought the sandals, glasses and other personal belongings of Mahatma Gandhi, a frugal and abstemious soul.
Vijay Mallya paid $1.8 million (Rs9.27 crore) for Mahatma memorabilia—and has been swamped by affectionate praise from ordinary Indians.
What Mallya does with his money is really nobody’s business, but we cannot but help wonder whether he overpaid for no fault of his.
India’s cultural affairs minister Ambika Soni said she had been instructed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to do “whatever possible” to ensure that the Gandhi items were brought back to India. There was enough national debate to tell the outside world that India was desperate to win the bid.
Was that sensible strategy? The reserve price of the items was $20,000-30,000, far less than the final sale price. You do not need a game theorist to know that India sent the wrong signals and helped push up the final price. A collective poker face would have helped.