All that glitters is a big gold scam about to burst?

RAMYA KRISHNAMURTHY writes from Bangalore: Always never very stable, my blood pressure has been shooting up alarmingly over the last few months, and—surprise, surprise— poor Arnab Goswami is not even the cause of it.

Each morning when I skim the newspapers; each evening when I switch on TV; and all day as I go around town gawking at the hoardings or listening to FM radio, the sight and sound of gold has begun to have a disastrous effect on my BP—and all this before NewsHour starts at 9 pm.

Just what it is, I wonder, that has resulted in this sudden societal craze for the yellow metal that goes beyond Akshaya Trithiya.

Have we, as a society, become the wisest investors on the planet, or have we lost all sense of balance? Are we collectively saving for a rainy day, or have we suddenly become materialistic beyond belief? Are we showing our spending power without compunctions, or are we going down the sad road of Kerala?

(When I can’t quite decide, I also ask myself another question privately: have I, as a woman, become a bit of a freak to so loathe what most other women crave?)

***

Look around you to see what I mean: there you have Kannada filmdom’s ace brothers Shiva Rajkumar and Puneet Rajkumar falling prey to the lure of cheap lucre and endorsing this obnoxious phenomenon in a manner their father would never ever have.

The elder brother asking you on radio to get the gold you have at home tested at the Kerala jewellery store (Kalyan) that has paid him to say so; the younger one exhorting you on television to pledge the gold you have and take a loan from the Kerala gold finance firm (Manappuram) that has paid him to say so.

Look at the newspapers: most of the the large, lavish advertisements in our dailies are those of the Kerala jewellery stores that are all over town or are planning to open shop soon (Malabar and Muthoot, Joyalukkas or Jos Alukkas), rival firms from across the border (revealingly) separated by a mere letter or two.

Look at the Kannada television channels: smaller local firms like Shree Sai Gold Palace use smalltime actresses to tout their wares and announce their schemes and discounts. Some like RR Gold Palace narcissisitically flaunt their owners as models, like a latter-day Lee Iacoca.

Why, one of the gold dons even (K.P. Nanjundi of Lakshmi gold palace) even produces and stars in a Kannada TV serial, and am told hosted a conference of a conferences of the jewel-making community of Vishwakarmas recently with the who’s who of Karnataka politics in attendance.

And then you have sites like churumuri, publishing periodic pictures of the actress Ramya or Ainditra Ray, all decked up in gold and other metals.

I know the theory well enough to understand what’s happening: That India always has been a massive gold consumer if not the biggest; that gold has always been a great form of investment, far safer than real estate or stocks or bank deposits; that even at this value, it is a safe investment, and so on.

I am aware that this is not a phenomenon unique to Karnataka and is probably happening in most of the southern States, if not in the rest of the country. And I am aware that even in the days of yore, homegrown stores like C. Krishniah Chetty & Sons and Jewels de Paragon were the big advertisers.

And, anyway, if people are buying gold with their own money or pledging their own gold, who am I to complain?

Still, looking at the gold rush, looking at the manner in which film stars are being used to woo gullible masses, looking at the number of shops opening their doors, looking at the unrealistic levels gold prices are shooting up to, etc, I get the sneaking feeling that we have well and truly entered a giant bubble which might burst any day.

I won’t use the word “scam” yet—and the newspapers and TV channels and FM stations won’t for obvious reasons too—but my guess is we may not have to wait too long before do so.

***

Photograph: Actress and dancer Lakshmi Gopalaswamy at a press conference on the eve of the 13th Jewels of India show in Bangalore on Wednesday (Karnataka Photo News)

***

Also read: Surely, all that glitters is indeed gold?

Don’t ask us what it is, but it sure costs a bomb

Has Akshaya Thrithiya become a major scam?

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11 Responses to “All that glitters is a big gold scam about to burst?”

  1. harkol Says:

    Gold is a very poor form of investment. Unlike Real-Estate and stocks its value is purely financial – with money being tied in without any real productive use. It is sad that folks are flocking to gold right now, for they are bound to get burnt.

    But, why blame the models or actors for promoting companies that are doing legal activities? Rajkumar never advertised anything, but should that stop his children from using a perfectly legitimate and respectable way to earn money? In Rajkumar’s time Film stars kept aloof and never promoted their movies aggressively like today, but times have changed. Today every star is monetizing his brand equity.

  2. Nastika Says:

    This article qualifies as FUD – Fear, uncertainty and doubt, If the author aim is not FUD, then I pity the intelligence behind the article.

    FYI, gold is non-renewable natural resource. More you mine, less it gets. Lesser it gets, more the price.

    PS: Very unfair to drag Shivaraj Kumar & Punnet Rajkumar into this. They have a price for their act. Whoever pays the price can get them to act. Thats their profession.

    .

  3. Nastika Says:

    Adding to the above post, Chinese & Indians citizens are hoarders of gold since ancient times. More money these people get more gold they buy.
    Few years back, Chines govt legally allowed their citizens to buy gold.
    As the GDP of these countries grow, demand for gold increased, pushing the price.

    .

  4. the colonel Says:

    gold: gold: gold:

    guilable,guilable,guilable

  5. FirstReality Says:

    Idiotic selfish gullible brats who save every penny only to buy gold and throw a lavish wedding deserve to be doomed. And they will be.

    Idiotic selfish brats who invest in gold commodity in stock market and make money short selling also deserve to be doomed. But they won’t be.

  6. Kashinath Says:

    Lakshmi Gopala Swami – Pakka bangalore iyengari poNNu :). Sometimes these iyengari chicks doesnt look good even though they r fair in color.

    On the other side, bengali Aidritha ray. In rural mysore side, if a gal is mischievous with boy(s) then they term it as “Bangaali aaata” :) :)

    Bangali and iyengari both are wearing gold, hope gold value doesnt go down :(:(

  7. Kitapati Says:

    Best investment in times where people are marching to Wall street.

  8. subu Says:

    i want gold plz. help me get some.

    @Kashinath
    Kashinath is a moron

    @Nastika
    plz don’t compare indians with chinese.

  9. Simple Says:

    Well, gold is not bad, neither the sale or advertising gold is wrong. Any economic activity is fine . But the gold ads make me puke. They could have at least created some aesthetic ads – considering that these gold shops make millions.

  10. pun Says:

    Gold is the best investment, and the only REAL money. Gold will outperform investments like Real Estate, etc in the coming 5-10 years. If you do not know the value, history, culture, of gold, kindly read it up.

  11. Manz Says:

    What are you trying to say here? The advertisements for gold should be banned and no one should buy gold?

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