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GANDHIAN LEGACY : FACT AND FICTION

GANDHIAN LEGACY : FACT AND FICTION

By BAL PATIL


The following are the few newsitems doing the rounds on the media and the tv channels. The entire Indian Government is now geared up to protect the Gandhian memorabilia. Ambica Soni , the Indian Culture Minister has just announced that she has specific instructions from the Prime Minister to protect the Gandhian legacy from being auctioned. In a way the entire nation appears to be geared up in an unprecedented remembrance of the legacy of the Father of the Nation.
There is an inspiring, almost Gandhian innovation however : It is James Otis’ call that he will "donate the items to the Indian government free if it decides to spend five per cent of GDP on the poor, who were very near to the heart of Gandhi, or announces some other scheme which would benefit them".




http://www.gandhitopia.org/group/mgnd/forum/topics/gandhians-unhappy-with-auction

Gandhians unhappy with auction of Gandhi's artefacts



As auctioneers in New York prepare to sell off some of Mahatma Gandhi's possessions, including his metal-rimmed spectacles and sandals, Gandhians here are saddened and hope that the buyers will keep the objects in public domain.

"Our every thought, relations, imagination, Indian culture - everything is being marketed in America. As always India is aping the West - so it would be foolish to expect anything else," Ramachandra Rahi, secretary of Gandhi Memorial Foundation here, told IANS.

"All of Gandhi's things should be ideally placed in a museum or place where public has access to it. It should be available to future generations to see and draw inspiration from," Rahi said.

The sale by Antiquorum Auctioneers is to be held March 4 and 5 in New York.

The auction includes his pocket watch and a bowl and a plate given to his grand niece Abha Gandhi.

Saying that the auction is "a lowly act" and "not in consonance with Gandhiji's values", Rahi added: "His relics will be priced but not valued. His ideas are important. I am disappointed and sad but the reality is that the money market has been raised to the pedestal of god. I can only hope that among the bidders are those who respect the Gandhian way and will keep in mind the need to maintain public access to the objects."

Other scholars of Gandhian philosophy also have their doubts. They feel an auction of Gandhi's relics in some ways undermines his core principles that denounce materialism.

"If I had been entrusted to take care of Gandhi's possessions, I would be a custodian by trust. Whether his items should be sold or not is a large issue - the ultimate interest of the items should be kept in mind and these things should remain in public domain and not be reduced to just a private collector's item," a Gandhian scholar requesting anonymity told IANS over the phone from Ahmedabad.

Sudarshan Iyengar, vice chancellor, Gujarat Vidya Peeth in Ahmedabad, said that to sell the items was the prerogative of the individual who possesses them. However he appealed that the auction bear Gandhi's thoughts in mind.

"I don't see any problem...if it's a genuine private collection and the person wants to put a price to it and auction it - it is his right," Iyengar said.

"I would be concerned if there is any manipulation that happened. Then the state and society must intervene. But if not then all one can do is appeal to the better sense of the auctioneer at a personal level - that is what Gandhi would have done, he would have just appealed. Beyond that it is a person's decision," Iyengar stressed.

The sandals being put on auction were given to a British army officer in 1931 prior to the Round Table talks in London.

Gandhi gave his glasses to an Indian army colonel, H.A. Shiri Diwan Nawab, with the words: "These gave me the vision to free India." These will be sold as well.

The items were put together by a collector, who is now selling them and there has already been a great deal of interest, media reports suggest.

The auctioneers feel that the items will sell for more than the estimated 30,000 pounds.

Govt vows to bring Gandhi’s belongings home
The government has said it will do everything required to bring back the personal belongings of Mahatma Gandhi to India.
Antiquorum Auctioneers in New York have placed Gandhi’s glasses, sandals, a pocket watch, a bowl and plate on auction, for a starting bid of $20,000 to $30,000. The auction is on Thursday.
India is holding last-minute talks with the auctioneer to take the items off the auction. “We have asked our embassy in Washington and Consulate General of India in New York to do everything required through the bidding process or otherwise to acquire the assets,” said Minister of State for External Affairs (MEA) Anand Sharma.
India contacted California-based collector James Otis. “He has agreed to meet the Consul General of India in New York,” the MEA said. Otis, however, told IANS he had rejected a “generous but small” offer from India.
The government’s options, sources said, were to buy the items from Otis, request the auction house to take them off auction or bid for them.
Reuters quoted Indian-American hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal telling CNN-IBN that, “Any Indian should buy it and send it back home. I think we will see how the auction goes.”
“We have offered them that even if they did not want to donate the items, we could purchase them on behalf of the Government of India,” said Prabhu Dayal, India’s Consul General in New York to CNN IBN.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print.aspx?Id=37e0ab11-0961-4522-9143-429cfdef28d6

Mahatma Gandhi Family Had Sold His Personal Belongings to James Otis

New York (ABC Live): James Otis, the owner of the Mahatma's items has announced to donate all items to India, If Indian Government would Assure spend five per cent of its GDP on poor on Tuesday.

New York (ABC Live): James Otis, the owner of the Mahatma's items has announced to donate all items to India, If Indian Government would Assure spend five per cent of its GDP on poor on Tuesday.

Otis termed himself the as great fan the Mahatma and said he plans to donate most of the money collected from the auction to "worthy causes" and institutions and groups working to promote Mahatma's ideals especially non violence.

Otis has also added two more items a blood report of Gandhi issued by Irwin Hospital and a telegram in which Gandhi congratulated students for their peaceful non-violent struggle, in auction list after controversies erupted.

According to James Otis, he has collected these items in last 15 years by direct purchase from the Gandhi family, auctions in London and New York and also from private dealers.

The private owner of Mahatma Gandhi’s belongings confirmed to ABC Live that he has sent an email to Mahatma Gandhi's great grandson Tushar Gandhi on the issue before this auction, as he has no contact in government authorise thus force to approach open auction ways.

Know Who were Original Holders of Mahatma Gandhi’s belongings?

1. It is to mention that Gandhi Ji had given his sandals to a British army officer in 1931 prior to the round table talks in London.
2. A bowl and plate and Gandhi's Zenith pocket watch were given to Abha Gandhi, his grand great-nephew by father of nation.
3. Mahatma also gave his glasses to an Indian army colonel, named as H.A. Shiri Diwan Nawab, with the words: "These gave me the vision to free India."

The question here arises when and how these personal items of father of nation, which were gifted to above mentioned persons reached to a private American collector?

Input from ABC Live US based Correspondent Walter Jones and ABC News & Info Services (www.abcnews.co.in)

Owner says ready to donate Gandhi's belongings to India
Describing himself as a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, the owner of his personal items that are going under the hammer said he is ready to give them to the Indian government for "free" if it decides to spend five per cent of its GDP on poor.
James Otis, the owner of the Mahatma's items, told PTI he plans to donate most of the money collected from the auction to "worthy causes" and institutions and groups working to promote Mahatma's ideals especially non violence.
Otis said he will "donate the items to the Indian government free if it decides to spend five per cent of GDP on the poor, who were very near to the heart of Gandhi, or announces some other scheme which would benefit them".
The statement of Otis came as several Indian-American leaders, including leading hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, announced their intention to bid for the items and, if successful, hand them over to the Indian government.
It was not clear whether Otis would be able to get out the contract with auctioneers who get commission on the sale but he said an arrangement could be worked out between them.
Antiquorum Auctioneers' spokesperson was immediately not available for comment and an email sent did not elicit any response.
The auctioneers had valued Gandhi's belonging being auctioned at around $20,000 to 30,000 but the controversy could raise the price much higher.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print.aspx?Id=b184148b-af82-42aa-9126-3317ff3c7e5a



But as the auction of the Gandhian articles is on which is an unfortunate comment as to how we as an Indian nation are not alert in protecting out most precious legacy, I cannot help pointing out how the Gandhian legacy, rather his precious memory is being “killed”’yes I am using the word with full consciousness of the gravity of the literal meaning of the word by a calendar dedicated to the memory of the killers of Mahatma Gandhi to celebrate completion of 60 years of Gandhi’s assassination on 30th January, 1948.

Yes, it is incredible but true as the following image of the newsitem published in the Hindustan Times dted december 30, 2008 captioned “Calendar dedicated to Gandhi’s assassin” It is brought out by the family and friends of Nathuram Godse sponsored by the Hutatma Nathuram Godse Icchapatra Nyaas (The Last will and Testament of the Martyr Nathuram Godse)




As the report mentions further” this year’s meeting assumes significance as some members of Abhinav Bharat and suspected Hindu radicals were recently arrested in connection with the September 29 Malegaon blast that killed six”

As the report further states: “Besides being the daughter-in-law of Balarao Sawarkar, a younger brother of of freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Sawarkar, Himani is the daughter of Gopal Godse, brother of Nathuram Godse.” The report also mentions that Gopal Godse was convicted and sentenced to life imrprisonment, and that Vinayak Damodar Sawarkar was also an accused in the Gandhi murder trial but was acquitted.

The report erroneously states that Gopal Godse was freed in mid-80s. Gopal Godse was released in 1964. As regards V.D. Sawarkar, the pioneer of the ‘Hindutva’ ideology which is the sheet anchor of the Bharatiya Janata Party objective of Hindu Rashtra, that India can be only a nation of Hindus.

Twenty years after the assassination, the Justice Jivan Lal Kapur commission of inquiry found that Badge’s evidence was being corroborated by Savarkar’s bodyguard Appa Ramchandra Kasar and Gajanan Vishnu Damle. Justice Kapur’s conclusion: "All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group."

The verdict of acquittal was sound in law. However, Union Home Minister Sardar Patel,s conclusion was characteristically clear: "It was a financial wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkarthat (hatched) the conspiracy and saw it through". (Emphasis added, throughout.)

The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi, which was set up in 1965, deserves greater weight than the verdict of the Sessions Court. It was headed by Justice Jivanlal Kapur of the Supreme Court and was provided with evidence not produced in the court; especially the testimony of two of Savarkar's close aides - Appa Ramachandra Kasar, his bodyguard, and Gajanan Vishnu Damle, his secretary.

Had they testified in Court, Savarkar would have been convicted. There was none of the ambiguity surrounding Godse and Apte's visits to Savarkar on January 14 and 17, 1948. Kasar told the Kapur Commission that they visited him on or about January 23 or 24, which was when they returned from Delhi after the bomb incident. Damle deposed that Godse and Apte saw Savarkar "in the middle of January and sat with him (Savarkar) in his garden."

Justice Kapur's findings are all too clear. He concluded: "All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group."

As noted by Pyarelal in his Last Phase “On the 17th January according to Badge, Nathuram Godse went to have a lst darshan of Savarkar at bombay. while Badge and Shankar waited outside , Nathuram and Apte went in. On coming out, Apte told Badge that Savarkar had said to them, “Yashasvi houn ya- be successful and return.” Apte was further reported to have said: “Tatyaravani ase bhavishya kele ahe ki Gandhijichi shambhar varshe bharali, ata, apale kam nischit onar yat kahi sanshaya nati- Tatyarao Savarkar has predicted that Gandhiji’s hundred years are over; there is therefore, no doubt that our mission will be successful.”

This is the same Savarkar who is lionized by Mr.Adwani as a great heroic freedom fighter clubbed together with Mahatma Gandhi. It is the same Savarkar who was an accused in the Mahatma Gandhi murder trial but escaped the clutches of law by hairbreadth because the approver’s testimony was not corroborated. But, as conclusively shown by Justice Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission to Inquire Into the Conspiracy to Murder Mahatma Gandhi (1970) who concluded emphatically after a rigorous analysis of evidence that “all these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.”

But most shockingly at the function held at Port Blair releasing books on Savarkar and Subhas Chandra Bose at the hands of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr.L.K. Adwani in July 2002 the vote of thanks was proposed by the Congress stalwart Mr.Vasant Sathe who appealed according to a report in the RSS weekly Organiser dt.July 8-14 that “Veer Savarkar should be awarded Bharat Ratna” !!!

A crowning insult to the the memory of the Father of the Nation as also to the secular foundation of the Indian Constitution is provided by the placing of Sawarkar’s portrait in the Central Hall of the Parliament opposite that of Mahatma Gandhi.

And the issue is not only the Calendar dedicated to Gandhi’s assassins:
Far more serious is the declaration made by Himani Sawarkar, President of Abhinav Bharat in a recent interview of the Indian Outlook Magazine:
http://www.outlookindia.com/fullprint.asp?choice=2&fodname=20081117&fname=AHindu+Terror&sid=2 dated 17th November. 2008 'If We Can Have Bullet For Bullet, Why Not Blast For Blast?'

Himani spoke to Outlook Magazine (Nov.17, 2008) as follows:

Excerpts from the interview in the Outlook Magazine dated November 17, 2008

Question: What are the objectives of Abhinav Bharat?

“Our aim is to fight terror—spread awareness of who the real terrorists are and teach people how to oppose terrorism…. Since the government failed to act, there had to be a reaction. If what the police claim against Sadhvi Pragya Singh and the others is true, then it is just a reaction against the real terrorism....

Question: But is a blast-for-blast strategy the way to tackle terrorism?

“Didn’t Maharashtra deputy CM R.R. Patil say that we must reply with a bullet for a bullet? Then why can’t we have a blast for a blast? Sameer Kulkarni and the others are patriots who love their country. But the government is now trying to declare them guilty to weaken the Hindus. We have become a soft state...should we all wear bangles now? The government doesn’t want to fight terrorism. That’s why it will never take action against the Muslims. The police have cracked so many cases like the encounter in Delhi where Muslim terrorists were killed. But as soon as the police takes action, there are shouts for a judicial inquiry.

Question : How should India fight terrorism?

“We must declare ourselves a Hindu Rashtra where everyone is a Hindu. Anyone who isn’t should be declared a second-class citizen and denied voting rights. Those who have problems with this should leave and settle in other countries. The Hindu votebank must unite to vote out any government that fails to tackle terror. Then we must throw out the outsiders like Bangladeshis who live off India’s wealth and work towards destroying us.”

I AM CONCERNED TO POSE A QUESTION NOT ONLY TO THE GANDHIANS ANXIOUS TO PRESERVE HIS LEGACY IN THE ARTICLES BEING AUCTIONED BUT ALSO TO THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA :

IS THIS NOT TREASONABLE IPSO FACTO? WHY NO ACTION IS BEING TAKEN? IN THE AFOREMENTIONED CONTEXT OF THE GREAT MEDIA FURORE ABOUT THE AUCTION OF THE GANDHIAN MEMORABILIA IN WHICH THE ENTIRE INDIAN GOVERNMENT HAS JOINED TO SAVE THE GANDHIAN ARTICLES BEING AUCTIONED IT IS NOT ONLY SHOCKING BUT A GRAVE INDEX OF INDIA’S UTTERLY LOPSIDED SCALE OF VALUES WHERE GANDHIAN LEGACY IS CONCERNED.

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