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India buys Mahatma Gandhi-Hermann Kallenbach archives


July 7, 2012 - London

In a pre-emptive which is rarely seen in the Indian Government circles, the Indian Union Ministry of Culture has signed a contract with auctioneers Sotheby's to purchase it before it was put up for auction on July 10.

The rich archive is containing thousands of items including letters, documents and photographs related to Mahatma Gandhi. These items throw a light on the controversial relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and architect Hermann Kallenbach. Kallenbach is one of the foremost friends of Gandhi during his stay in South Africa.

In a statement, the Sotheby's said: "The Gandhiji-Kallenbach archive, which had been scheduled to be offered as Lot 30 in Sotheby’s English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations Auction on July 10, 2012, has been withdrawn from sale."

With these archives getting in to public, historians, researchers and biographers will be get busy in understanding Gandhiji, fondly called Mahatma.

Back in March 2009, Gandiji's memorabilia are put up for auction in New York despite the Indian Government trying to keep them away from auction. Gandhi's eyeglasses, a pocket watch, leather sandals, plate and bowl are put for auction and are saved when Indian businessman Vijay Mallya interfered and spent his money (about 1.8 million) to get them back to India. The Indian Government attempted to take credit but Mallya clarified he bought at auction on his own and that the Indian Government had nothing to do with the bidding.

A pinch of soil and bloodstained blades of grass from the place where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 was sold for 11,700 pounds at an auction in London.

In April, followers of Mahatma Gandhi lamented the auction of artefacts related to him, saying that such events failed to spread his principles and ideals.

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