Will Andhra Pradesh, South India, Only Appear To Address Sathya Sai Baba Scandals?
Posted by Barry Pittard on July 12, 2011
Sathya Sai Baba certainly lives on, though not in the fashion in which his devotees commonly conceive. The revelations of scandal and duplicity among those left behind to clean up the unholy mess have kept coming. So far the Andhra Pradesh government has shown a number of signs of being accountable. Its police and revenue seems to have been doing their job. Even so, questions need to be driven here – for example, why did the AP government leave the Sathya Sai Trust un-superintended after the first massive haul of treasure was exposed? Why did it allow the Trust to appear to be a good taxpaying citizen when it allow the Trust to pay taxes on the vast millions of booty that has already be discovered? This government will be under much scrutiny. But then, again, how can one scrutinise governments notorious for secrecy and duplicity?
So far the AP government has ordered some arrests, though we must notice that this has been of footsoldiers. Poor wretched minor players. Of the type who tend caught. But such a scenario is common the world over – the Mr Bigs usually are exempt and the Mr Smalls cop prison.
For decades, Andhra Pradesh has been complicit in cover ups of Sathya Sai Baba. Many sides of politics are riddled with Sathya Sai Baba devotees, many of them in the highest echelons of power. This is true throughout India but, after all, AP is the Sai Baba home ground. Even here, there is the factor that political horse-trading knows few boundaries when it comes to interstate influence by political parties that are India-wide.
Exposure of any improper procedures by the AP government may have to remain discoverable by what does not happen and what is not seen, when it should have happened and should have been seen. One factor that may somewhat save the day may be the actions of those Sai Baba devotees who have had their eyes at least somewhat opened, particularly those many who appear to have had more than enough of figures such as R.J. Ratnakar and V. Srinivasan who are on the profoundly untrustworthy Sai Trust.
Sathya Sai trust submits report to Andhra Pradesh government
Indo-Asian News Service, Updated: July 11, 2011 20:57 IST
Hyderabad: The Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, which manages the affairs of late Sathya Sai Baba’s spiritual empire on Monday, submitted a detailed report to the Andhra Pradesh government on its functioning as well as financial details.
Responding to the government’s notice, the trust submitted the report to endowments secretary K.V. Ramnachari.
The report contains details of the trust’s finances, its activities, revenues, institutions run by it, members of the trust, their addresses and their professions.
The trust has also reportedly provided details of the trust’s objectives, its day-to-day functioning, details of the officials who run the trust and various institutions, assets, income and expenditure.
Officials said the government would evaluate the report before taking a decision on the demands from a section of devotees to take over the trust or at least set up a mechanism to monitor the trust.
It was on June 27 that the government had asked the trust to submit the report in 10 days. The move came amid allegations that the trust members are involved in financial irregularities.
It is for the first time in nearly four decades that the government intervened in the affairs of the trust. The trustees were facing allegations of irregularities after Sathya Sai Baba’s demise on April 24.
Anantapur police had last month seized Rs.35 lakh from a car and arrested three people, who revealed that they were transporting the cash from Baba’s ashram in Puttaparthi to Bangalore on the directions of two trust members.
Though the trust has claimed that the money was donated by some devotees for building Sathya Sai Baba’s samadhi, the police are continuing the probe amid allegations that huge cash and valuables were shifted out of the ashram.
BBC South Asia
Satya Sai Baba Trust ‘has $190m cash reserves’
By Swaminathan Natarajan BBC Tamil
A trustee in charge of managing the vast empire of the late Indian guru Satya Sai Baba has revealed that it has $190m (£118.3m) of cash reserves.
The trustee says media reports have wildly exaggerated the true value of assets managed by the trust.
Media reports have put the value of all trust assets at between $10-25bn. This is thought to be the first time its cash reserve value has been revealed.
Satya Sai Baba was one of the most influential Indian spiritual leaders.
He enjoyed support from all areas of Indian society and had millions of followers around the world.
But he was dogged by controversy including allegations, never proven, of sexual abuse and charlatanism. He died on 24 April at the age of 84.
He used his wealth to carry out number of social welfare activities, including building a hospital and a university.
After his death, wide-ranging concerns were expressed by the public about who would inherit his massive wealth.
“We have about 8.5bn Indian rupees ($190m) of cash reserves. The interest we get from this will be used to run our hospital and university,” Madras-based industrialist V Srinivasan said.
But the trust does own huge assets. It runs a big hospital in Bangalore, it has a university and it owns land in various places around India.
“The properties we have are all for specific purposes. In Bangalore, we have 60 acres of land where our super-speciality hospital is already built,” says Mr Srinivasan.
“This land is not used for commercial purposes, nor will it ever be. So the value we will fix in our balance sheet is the value at which we acquired the property,” he says.
“Our trust is not speculative. It is very specific. We don’t hold any property for commercial development,” he adds.
But Sai Baba’s organisation also has property abroad.
“The properties that lie abroad don’t come under the central trust. They are run from respective countries. We have no control or knowledge of the value of properties abroad,” he says.
There are growing calls for the government to monitor the activities of the trust.
“[The] Andhra Pradesh government has asked certain details about the trust. We will furnish all the information that they have asked for by next week,” Mr Srinivasan said.
Excerpt From Public Petition (and introduction)