Response to Sale of Gandhi’s Personal Items

In response to the sale by auction in New York of Gandhi’s round glasses, a pocket watch, leather sandals and other personal items, members of The Gandhi Foundation Executive Committee have the following comments:

“It is rather obscene that items belonging to a man who deliberately led a simple lifestyle are now being sold to the highest bidder in a capitalist system, which Gandhi rejected. The items should rightfully belong in a national museum. It’s a pity that his message is not adopted with the same vigour with which his possessions are being exploited.” – Omar Hayat

“I think that there are at least two issues at stake in the preservation and presentation of any material object:
  1. What meaning does the object in itself convey to the observer. In other words, does it convey meaning at any cultural or political level, or give insight into its creator, previous owners or their contemporaries?  What does the observer gain from seeing it?
  2. The private/public dimension.  If it passes this test of significance, how many people will be freely able to observe it? If it is sold into private hands, what material gain affords to the buyer and what are the implications for the future?
In Gandhi’s case, I am sure he would scoff at any attempt to argue the first and dismiss out of hand any attempt to value his possessions as perverse and a corruption of the ideals he worked so hard to remind us of.” – John Rowley
“I find it pretty disgusting that someone wants to make a lot of money from them but then that’s quite normal in our perverse society.   Prices paid for all sorts of artifacts are outrageous and are a product of the enormous inequality that exists. However I doubt if Gandhi would have wanted such items to be preserved.” – George Paxton


Categories: America, Gandhi


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