India is the world’s biggest consumer of gold and its ancient temples have collected billions of dollars in jewellery, bars and coins over the centuries — all hidden securely in vaults, some ancient and some modern. … Now, the Narendra Modi government reportedly wants to get his hands on this temple gold, estimated at about 3,000 tonnes, more than two-thirds of the gold held in the U.S bullion depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to help tackle India’s chronic trade imbalance.
The Modi government is planning to launch a scheme in May that would encourage temples to deposit their gold with banks in return for interest payments, it is said. The government is likely to melt the gold and loan it to jewellers to meet an insatiable appetite for gold and reduce economically-crippling gold imports, which accounted for 28 per cent of India’s trade deficit in the year ending March 2013.
Even if the plan succeeds, it’s still not nearly as good as converting the gold into cash directly to help the poor. Why would gods be interested in precious metals in the first place? It boggles the mind that more and more gold accrues to Hindu temples and none of it is used for anything but adornments, at best. A lot of the yellow metal just sits uselessly in vaults, hidden away for hundreds, possibly thousands of years.