India rejects Otis' conditions on Gandhi memorabilia auction
India on Thursday rejected the conditions set by the American auctioneer of Mahatma Gandhi's personal items for stopping the memorabilia from going under the hammer and is in touch with United States and international legal agencies to get the articles back.
"Gandhiji himself would not have agreed to conditions. The Government of India representing the sovereign people of this republic cannot enter into such agreements where it involves specific areas of allocation of resources," Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said.
Union Cultiure Minister Ambika Soni said that New Delhi is in touch with the United States and international agencies to get the articles -- metal-rimmed glasses, pocket watch, a pair of sandals and a plate and bowl -- back.
The Ministers' responses came after James Otis, the auctioneer, set conditions for withdrawing the items from the auction which included a "substantial" increase in India's budget spending on health care of the poor. The memorabilia is up for auction at Antiquorum Auctioneers in New York.
Sharma said he was sure that Otis is aware that New Delhi has policy initiatives with "historic" allocations of resources particularly for rural health programmes and the education of the poor besides other pro-poor schemes.
On Otis' demand that New Delhi help its embassies in promoting Gandhian ideals in 78 countries, Sharma told a television channel that New Delhi is already incorporating Gandhiji's vision.
Soni said the Delhi High Court has already stayed the auction.
Gandhiji’s grandson Tushar Gandhi termed Otis’ demands were “farfetched” and wondered whether the auctioneer has been changing his demands and objectives too often.
“He has made the demand of GDP, spending on poor to be increased...I think all those things are difficult for a government to point blank agree on ... Otis also said that there will be another condition,” he said.
Gandhiji’s granddaughter Tara G Bhattacharjee said the United Nations have declared October 2 as a day of non-violence and “so, Gandhiji is everybody’s responsibility, not just of Indians”.