The US-based owner of Mahatma Gandhi memorabilia,up for auction in New York this week,has offered to “donate” the rare collection to India if it agrees to spend five per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on the poor.
James Otis owns five personal belongings of Gandhi – his metal-rimmed glasses,pocket watch,a pair of sandals,and a plate and bowl – which India is under intense pressure to acquire on the grounds they are part of its national heritage.
“… if the (Indian) government decides to allocate five per cent of the GDP to or announces some major scheme for the poor,who’re very near to the heart of Gandhi or announces some other scheme which would benefit them,I will even donate these items,” he said.
Otis said that he has added two more items of Gandhiji to ‘the five already being auctioned. These include his blood report from the then Irwin hospital in Delhi and a signed telegram he sent to students participating in a non-violent struggle at that time.
In fact,his statement came in the wake of several Indian-American leaders including hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal,announcing their intention to bid for the rare collection and,if successful,hand it over to the Indian government.
However,it was not clear whether Otis would be able to get out of the contract with auctioneers who get commission on the sale proceeds,but he claimed that an arrangement could be worked out with them.
Neither the Antiquorum Auctioneers’ spokesperson was available for comment nor an email sent elicit any response.
The auctioneers had earlier valued Gandhi’s belongings at around USD 20,000 to 30,000 but the controversy could raise the price much higher.