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Auction of Gandhi's few items draws fire

THE great-grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi has launched a fundraising campaign to buy a rare collection of the Indian independence leader's personal items that are up for auction and bring them back to India.

The collection, including Gandhi's round wire-rim eyeglasses, is being auctioned next month in New York.

Tushar Gandhi said selling the belongings of his great-grandfather ?? who espoused a life of poverty and had few possessions ?? was "immoral" because "they belong to India and the people of India."

He said he is trying to raise at least US$300,000 to be able to have a serious chance of buying the items. "At the moment we don't even have a third of that amount but I'm very hopeful of raising the money," he said.

The personal effects of Gandhi, who was also known as "Mahatma" or "great soul," consist of a pair of eyeglasses, worn leather sandals, a pocket watch and a simple brass bowl and plate.

They will be sold as a single lot on March 5 by Antiquorum Auctioneers.

The items were consigned by a private American collector who obtained them from the descendants of the Gandhi family, said Julien Scharer of the auctioneers last week.

Gandhi gave the bowl, plate and the 1910 Zenith sterling silver pocket watch to his grandniece, Abha Gandhi, who worked as his assistant for six years. Gandhi died in her arms in 1948 after being shot by a Hindu radical.

"The people who had taken these objects from him would never have agreed to their sale," Tushar Gandhi said. "It's only because they are no more that their heirs are looking at it from a purely monetary outlook, and that is reprehensible."


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