If there was a rating scale on the intelligence levels of people I would rate the early civilizations like Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, Mayan, Indus, Egyptian as the most innovative and intelligent people. These cults of people employed everything around them for their benefits. They discovered cooking with fire, made vessels, weapons, introduced community living, built magnificent layouts with planned drainage systems they even dug the earth deep down to find water and may be ended up finding metals. Probably the mining concept was first discovered by these early civilizations known to us.
One such golden discovery by them must have been gold. The yellow metal was called the sun’s sweat because of its golden bright shine like the sun and its malleability. Gold was used by earlier civilizations mainly for making accessories like jewelry.
Till date there is no authenticated affirmation about the actual date of discovery of gold but archeological studies suggest that civilizations that existed 6000 years ago had used gold.
But this is one discovery that went on to become the most sought after commodity from civilization to civilization and millennium to millennium.
WHY IS GOLD SO EXPENSIVE?
Anything that is rare and hard to obtain is much sought after thus becoming valuable. Gold was and is considered precious because of its rarity, beauty and endurance. This was some 5ooo years ago that man discovered gold and employed it in the making of accessories, coins, idols, artifacts it was also a medium for barter. It later became a medium of trade because of its preciousness.
But why are Indians so crazy about it even today?
In ancient Indian tradition wearing gold was believed to improve our health this is one of the reasons why even today people wear bits of gold on their body. The metallic property of gold attracts sun’s powerful energy which is believed to protect and restore the essence within. Also when we bathe the water that touches gold and then our body is believed to purify the toxins within. In olden days gold was also consumed in small quantities via paan(betel leaf with areca nut) and sweets.
Ayurveda practiced by ancient sages advocated consumption of gold dust for curing joint pains.
Gold is symbolic with purity and high quality it is often associated with the ‘best’ that is the reason we have phrases like ‘golden moments’, ‘golden years’ or ‘a person with a golden heart’ and things like that. Even today academic toppers in educational universities get a gold medal. All those people calling Indians as gold savvy and silly watch out!! Olympic medals and Oscar awards are made of gold and not steel. India was invaded by several westerners mainly for its gold and precious gems.
Gold is synonymous with honor, prestige and prosperity. Possession of gold is always equated with richness it is believed to bring some esteem and pride to the person wearing it.
Like I said earlier anything rare is always much sought after and goes on to become expensive, anything expensive and rare is a substance to possess and flaunt around by the elite and rich. And by the way who wants to be called poor?
Gold apart from being lustrous and beautiful is also soft, ductile, non-corrosive making it apt for making jewelry. The unfading luster and its beauty especially when worked with colorful precious gems make it the most sought metal. Apart from the mesmerizing qualities of gold even the cultural history of India is in a way responsible for the gold savvy mindset of the people.
India a country with a past of reigning dynasties and kingdoms that splurged in gold and flourished with rich heritage of culture, traditions, art, dance forms known for its gems, spices, great architecture of temples, mind-blowing jewelry designs and silk sarees. India was dominated by kings and queens until the Britiish sneaked in and started ruling us.
The ancient Indian kings and queens and all the royal descendants had an affair with gold. They used thrones, palanquins, crowns made of gold. Rare and precious gems were embedded in all the gold ornaments adorned by them. Gold coins were given away as rewards. Idols of gods and goddesses were incarnated in gold. Temple shrines were built from gold. Royal lunches were served in golden plates and cups. It was not just ornaments even their robes and attires were sewn with golden threads. Such was the royal extravaganza and engagement with gold.
It is only since the last 6 decades that India has adopted democratic form of Government and is fast competing with developed nations. This royal lineage and traditional sway still encompasses the Indian minds and societies.
Why do we buy so much gold, what satisfaction does it give in particular that you shun wearing any other metal?
We see so many brands of gold retailers today in contrast to the earlier system where only a few local goldsmiths used to hand-make elementary jewels like a mangalsutra(the neck chain worn by Indian women as a sign of marriage), bangles, nose pins, ear rings.
There is no marriage without gold in India, it is considered below dignity to wear a look-alike yellow metal or any other metal, the buying power has marginally increased and so is the sellers’ competition, thanks to the IT invasion that has inflated our markets in the name of globalization so much and left the common man high and dry.
Lastly and most importantly Indians are trained and greatly encouraged to make that little savings from the beginning. We save a minimum of at least 30% of our incomes by way of investment in gold or land which works like a contingency reserve for any given financial crisis. Most Indians don’t rely much on any stock markets. If economy of a country was rated on the amount of gold possessed India would be the richest economy.
SOME GOLDEN FACTS (drawn from wikipedia):
• The world consumption of gold produced is about 50% in jewelry 40% in investments and 10% in industry.
• India is the largest consumer of gold in the world although it produces only 0.5% of its annual gold consumption.
• Indian households alone hold gold worth over $950 billion which in turn is around 50 per cent of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) in dollar terms, says a report http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-12-05/news/30474783_1_gold-imports-tonnage-terms-gold-demand
• India is the No 1 gold importer in the World.
USES OF GOLD
• Gold is used for electrical wiring in some high-energy applications
• Gold has its use in medicine gold in a particular form is used to cure rheumatoid arthritis.
• Gold alloys are used in restorative dentistry especially in tooth restorations, such as crowns and permanent bridges. The crowns made of gold give more satisfaction than the porcelain crowns.
• Gold is an efficient and reliable conductor of heat hence gold is used in circuitry. Micro-processors, memory chips, socket connectors all contain gold. Gold coated films are used in spacecraft to reflect infrared radiation and stabilize temperature of the spacecraft.
HAZARDS OF GOLD
The gold production creates hazardous pollution. Thirty tonnes of used ore is dumped as waste for producing one finger ring of gold. Gold ore dumps are the source of many heavy elements such as cadmium, lead, zinc, copper, arsenic, selenium and mercury. Water becomes unsuitable for human consumption if these heavy metals are dumped in water which also leads to acid mine drainage. The gold ore dumps are seen as long term man made hazardous waste next only to nuclear waste dumps. Clearing this hazardous debris of heavy metals involves spending billions of dollars.
Investment in gold at an individual level would be a saving but it is certainly not good for our economy as we have to shell out billions of dollars for importing gold which will weaken the rupee value and imbalance our economy.
But the fact that many of you clicked on this article about gold is proof enough about the attractive property of gold and its priority in our lives.
Image courtesy: Google images.