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by Aseem Shukla

India’s Supreme Court ordered Friday that a security plan be drawn up to protect a treasure estimated at $22 billion discovered in an ancient Hindu temple last week.

It is a story that seems to fulfill every phantasmic imagination of an exotic India. Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones, and all of its detestable stereotypes elicited in the Temple of Doom, could not have written a better script. For the news headlines out of India over the last week have breathlessly touted untold treasures tumbling out of a chamber deep from within the inner sanctum of an ancient Hindu temple.

Ruling on a private citizen’s petition, the Supreme Court of India ordered that the vaults of one of South India’s most prominent temples, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, be opened and the contents within it be catalogued.

Statues of pure gold studded with emeralds and baskets of antique gold coins dating back half a millennium and more have been discovered thus far, and the total value is reportedly being pegged anywhere between $5 and $20 billion.

India as a land of stunning contradictions is as much a tired cliché as it is true.

But what to make of the priceless treasures?

Why would the government demand that the vaults of a private temple be opened?

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