India’s temples guard their gold from government?!?

The recent CAD figures have come at 4.9% of GDP. These are lower than market expectations and markets likely to take a breather. Dr Rajan is one lucky man,,

Though, the govt keeps thinking of ways to curb Gold buys.  The Government/RBI seems to have taken Jamal Mecklai’s suggestions rather seriously. However, Jamal had asked to buy gold from Tirupati, the recent developments are little different.

Mint has this story (via Reuters):

India’s Hindu temples are resisting divulging their gold holdings—perhaps nearly half the amount held in Fort Knox—amid mistrust of the motives of authorities who are trying to cut a hefty import bill that is hurting the economy.

The central bank, which has already taken steps that have slowed to a trickle the incoming supplies that have exacerbated India’s current account deficit, has sent letters to some of the country’s richest temples asking for details of their gold.
It says the inquiries are simply data collection, but Hindu groups are up in arms. “The gold stored in temples was contributed by devotees over thousands of years and we will not allow anyone to usurp it,” said V. Mohanan, secretary of the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad organisation in Kerala state, in a statement.
The central bank said there was “no proposal under its consideration to convert idle gold into bullion at this juncture”. But its letters, sent to leading temple trusts in Kerala, were prompted by a report looking at “issues related to gold imports” and loans outside the banking system in February, which zeroed in on temples and domestic hoards for fresh supplies.
Under the heading “supply-related measures”, the report looks at recycling domestic gold and notes: “Temples in India hold large quantities of gold jewellery offered by devotees to the deities.”Subha Unnikrishnan, a clothes shop owner worshipping at one of the temples in Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, said whatever had been given to the temple should stay there.“We have given it to the god with a purpose,” he said. “Nobody can take them away.”
Of the three major temple boards in Kerala, which administer more than 2,800 temples, Cochin board has also decided against providing details of its gold, while another has yet to decide and a third says it has not yet received a letter from RBI.  Some of them cite security reasons for their reticence—and the wealthiest temples do have tight controls and metal detectors at gates to keep their assets safe.
What is interesting is that some temples are willing to let use gold for nation’s purposes:
There are some, for sure, who feel the temples should divulge their centuries of gold offerings.
“Everything the temple gets should be known to the devotees,” said Shankaram Kutty, head of an advertising firm based in Cochin, who goes at least once a year to Guruvayur with an offering. “I feel every temple should declare their assets.”
Mumbai’s Shree Siddhivinayak Ganpati temple, often visited by Bollywood celebrities, had already put 10kg of its gold into a bank deposit scheme. It still has 140kg in its vault.
“The gold we have is the nation’s property, we will be proud if the nation can benefit from it,” said Subhash Vitthal Mayekar, chairman of the temple’s administrative trust. He has not yet received an inquiry from RBI.
It is not alone. The Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh, considered one of India’s richest, has lodged 2,250kg of gold with the State Bank of India, which pays it interest.As the central bank ponders its options, it could take heart that the temples themselves are already doing their bit to circulate the gold. “We use some of it for making gold lockets that we sell in our temple counter. For making the lockets, we send some gold to the Mumbai mint through the State Bank of India, which is one of our bankers,” said a source at the Guruvayur temple’s administration.
Interesting stuff..

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