Gandhi auction draws outrage in India 

28th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Gandhi's sandals, pocket watch and other items are up for sale next month, drawing criticism from those who feel the items should be on public display.

New Delhi -- An auction of several of Mahatma Gandhi's personal possessions, including his trademark round glasses, has triggered a campaign for the items to be returned to India.

Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi, said it as a "grave insult" for the independence leader's belongings to be sold off next month in New York. He also said he was trying to raise money to bring them home.

Gandhi's sandals, pocket watch and some dishes are among the items being offered.
Parliamentarian Mohan Singh has also weighed in, calling on the government to "buy these relics and bring them back here so that they can be put in a museum."

Ramachandra Rahi, secretary general of the Gandhi Memorial Foundation in New Delhi, said Gandhi's belongings "should be available to future generations to see and draw inspiration from."

A German collector owns the items. He obtained them from Gandhi’s grandniece, Ghita.

Tushar, who heads the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation in Mumbai, said they had been given to the current owner for display in museums and that Ghita was "morally not right" to provide a letter of authenticity for the sale. "She should remember that her parents would never, ever have thought of making money out of selling these things. They worshipped these items,” he added.

Tushar said he asked the auction house, Antiquorum Auctioneers, to postpone the March 5 sale until he had raised enough money to bid for the items but it had refused.

Since then, he has been accepting donations. But Tushar is running out of time despite some of his compatriots -- many of them desperately poor -- chipping in.

The auction house has said the items are expected to sell for 20,000 to 30,000 dollars in total, leaving Tushar "hoping for a miracle to happen." "I know that this is the last chance of ever getting them back," he said.

Gandhi, who eschewed material possessions as part of his minimalist worldview, led India's nationalist movement against British rule and was assassinated in Delhi by a Hindu fanatic in 1948, a year after India achieved independence.


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