India wants Gandhi’s sandals, glasses back

Members of India’s Parliament have demanded that Mahatma Gandhi‘s iconic items which are to be put up for auction in New York on March 5 be brought back so that a significant part of the country’s historical heritage is not lost to foreigners.

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MPs from various parties reacted strongly to reports that Gandhi’s trademark leather sandals and metal-rimmed glasses, as well as his pocket watch, will be auctioned next month.

Auctioneers have put an estimate of £30,000 ($42,000) on the items but expect the winning bid to be higher.

The auction house said that in the past few days it had received inquiries from prospective buyers around the globe.

“I think the government must enter the auction if possible,” Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer told The Times of India.

“It would be a pity if these items were to pass into private hands abroad and leave India bereft of an important part of his legacy,” he added.

The round glasses, one of the most familiar details in Gandhi’s image, were given to an army colonel.

His watch was given to his grand niece, Abha Gandhi, in whose arms he died after being shot in 1948.

Former Speaker and Shiv Sena MP Manohar Joshi said: The persons who own these articles should be contacted to see if they are willing to give them to India, perhaps for a price. Otherwise, the government should consider being part of the auction and even contact the US government in this regard.”