Bring some inner peace with some items straight from Gandhi

A relative of Mahatma Gandhi made a last ditch appeal to the government Monday to stop the iconic resistance leader’s personal effects, including trademark round glasses, from being auctioned off.

The latest appeal from Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, came as New York-based Antiquorum Auctioneers said plans to sell a watch, a pair of sandals, a plate and bowl plus the glasses would go ahead this week.

“I abandoned my efforts to try and collect money to buy Gandhi’s possessions after the government of India said it was determined to do whatever it could” to bring the belongings back to India, Tushar Gandhi told AFP.

“But according to my information, the government has made no effort yet to contact anyone from Antiquorum. I am really getting anxious,” said Tushar Gandhi, who heads the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation in Mumbai and describes the sale as a “grave insult”.

The Press Trust of India, however, quoted government officials as saying New Delhi was considering legal steps to stall the auction.

“We are seriously examining other means including legal action to stop the auction,” it quoted an unnamed government official as saying.

Officials from India’s Culture Ministry held a closed-door meeting Monday with experts from the government’s legal wing on the issue, it added.

On Friday, India’s Culture Minister Ambika Soni told the news agency that “whatever can be done is being done to ensure that articles are not auctioned”.

But on Sunday, auctioneer Julien Schaerer said that despite an outcry in India over the sale, the auction house had not been contacted by India.

“The auction will happen on March 5,” Antiquorum’s spokeswoman Michelle Halpern told AFP in New York. “There has been no change.”

Antiquorum has refused to identify the person it says is the single, private owner of the items.

The auction house has put an estimate of 20,000 to 30,000 dollars on the items, which will sell as one lot.

Expectations are for a considerably higher price — partly thanks to publicity from the row in India over the sale.