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Canadian MP wants India to buy Gandhi's effects

February 24, 2009 17:43 IST

Former Premier of British Columbia and now Liberal Member of the Canadian House of Commons Ujjal Dosanjh has written to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh asking him to take steps to acquire Mahatma Gandhi's personal art effects which are currently in private possession and are likely to be auctioned on March 5 in New York.

Those items include Gandhi's spectacles, his slippers and a watch among others.

In a phone interview from Ottawa, Dosanjh said he's urging, "Dr Manmohan Singh to take action at his level. I am hoping that the Indian government acquires these items and places them in a museum in India or at a place open to the public."

 "I don't have the resources to purchase them. Otherwise I would have and handed them over to a museum in India so that public would have access to them."

"It is my heritage," emphasised Dosanjh. "These art effects are the heritage of a billion people. These just don't belong to India. Gandhi is one of the most revered figures in history. He is the Indian most world citizens know of and I think in that sense this is not about just being an Indian. This is about ensuring Gandhi's legacy is protected."

Dosanjh is upset that rich Indians from many parts of the world did not come forward to buy these items. "Sadly I haven't seen one of them coming forward, to say he would acquire Gandhi's personal art effects for putting them appropriately in the public domain."

"If no individual does it, I would say it is absolutely incumbent on the government of India to do this."

"I consider myself, along with a billion Indians, the inheritor and heir to Gandhi's legacy," noted Dosanjh. He said he may be living in Canada but "I am still a proud Indian. So, I am worried as a public person and as an Indian I haven't seen any major organisation or even the government coming forward before it is too late to purchase Gandhi's personal items in whatever way legitimately possible."

Whether you live in India or abroad "as I do, we are all defined by our legacy," Dosanjh explained. "A very significant part of that legacy and that heritage is represented to the rest of the world by Gandhi."

According to published reports, Michelle Halpern from Antiquorum Auctioneers of New York said Gandhi presented his spectacles to Indian army Colonel H A Shiri Diwan Nawabin in the 1930s, after he had asked the great leader for inspiration:

Gandhi gave him the glasses and said: 'these gave me the vision to free India'.

Ajit Jain in Toronto