There was an auction in London yet again of Mahatma Gandhi’s memorabilia, and just look at India’s misfortune the Government of India just slept. Once again, the same Indian who had prevented Mahatma Gandhi’s memorabilia from going into foreign hands and brought back to the country earth soaked with Gandhiji’s blood, saved India’s honour. What is really worth appreciating is that this person does not want to draw any media mileage and wishes to keep his name secret. Of course, before this there were people who purchased items of the historical heritage of India in auctions, but they publicised what they had done so much that the historical heritage aspect got converted into just ‘an articles purchased’ act and the historical heritage importance of the items was reduced considerably in the process.
But let us tell you some things about the auction connected with memories of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. This auction was conducted by a large auction house of Britain known as Mullocks, on 21 May, 2013. In this auction, bids were made for Bapu’s Ramayana, leather ‘chappals’ (slippers), lantern, ‘mala] (rosary), a statue of wood, a painting, cap, a telegram, record discs and several other things. Information of this auction was available with the Government of India too but neither were any bidders present on its behalf and nor was any attempt made to try and bring back to India memorabilia connected with Bapu. The regret is that this was not the first occasion when Gandhiji’s memorabilia were being auctioned the Government has been embarrassed before this too when appeals were made to the Government of India through TV and newspapers to stop this auction of the ‘honour’ of the country. But it is said that those who are sleeping can be woken up but who can wake up those who are already awake? This means that this Congress led Government has proved with its misdeeds that it is neither interested in memories or the memorabilia of Mahatma Gandhi, nor is it worried about the prestige of the country.
When the Government does not take care of the prestige of the country, this responsibility devolves on the citizens of the country. Kamal Morarka took up this responsibility. When news came that on 21 May, 2013, an auction would be held of 16 items of Bapu’s, he waited for the Government’s reactions and responses. But the Government repeated the very same mistake it had made the last time. There was not even a statement on behalf of the Government. In such a situation, Kamal Morarka made up his mind to bring back Bapu’s heritage and successfully bid for Bapu’s 16 items at the auction. This is not the first such initiative by Kamal Morarka.
Last year too Kamal Morarka had brought back to India Bapu’s memorabilia. London’s noted large auction house Mullocks (which is famous for its auctions of historical memorabilia and mementoes) had on 17 April, 2012 held an auction of 29 items of Mahatma Gandhi. These included grass and soil soaked in the blood of Gandhiji, the
spectacles he had used while studying law in Britain, his ‘charkha’ or spinning wheel, some handwritten letters, and the originals of his articles published in newspapers. All these articles were purchased and brought back to India by Kamal Morarka and in doing so he saved a very important part of the heritage of the country and of course, Gandhiji’s memorabilia.
After this he announced that he would not keep them for his personal satisfaction or use of any kind, but they will be the heritage of the country. The last time when Bapu’s memorabilia as brought to India, Kamal Morarka handed over the items to Anna Hazare. They were kept for the first time before the public when Anna Hazare held his Jantantra rally in Patna. Gandhiji constitutes the ‘heritage’ of the country. His thoughts and ideas are invaluable. The Government’s duty and responsibility to the Father of the Nation does not end with running schemes in the name of Gandhi ! Actually, it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that the views of Gandhiji reach and every person. What it should do, the Government does not do, but does everything else. What should have been done by the Government is being done by Kamal Morarka. By bringing Bapu’s heritage back to the country once again he has proved that political parties in the country may forget Gandhiji, but Gandhiji has and will always remain in the heart of an Indian.
The people of the country, salute the spirit and determination of Kamal Morarka but what did the Government do? If there had been an auction just once, it could be said that the Government made a mistake, but auctions are being held every year and the Government keeps sitting and remains a mute spectator. Is the Government of India so helpless and weak or has it taken a vow to forget Gandhiji? The question that also arises is : has the memorabilia of any leader of America ever been auctioned or can bids be made for the memorabilia of the Queen or King of England? No, because either the auction is stopped or the Government there purchases all the memorabilia, but strange are the ways of the Government of India. At intervals of time, there is news that Gandhi’s memorabilia will be auctioned. The Government does not even appreciate the sentiments of the people. Does it not know that on hearing that Mahatma Gandhi’s memorabilia are to be auctioned, the blood of every Indian boils? In fact, auction houses have made Gandhi’s memorabilia a commodity. Is the Government of India unable to prevent them from doing so or is it not worried at all about Gandhiji? Actually, both these propositions are condemnable.
Items of Gandhi’s memorabilia are being auctioned one after the other, but the Government has thrown up its hands. The question is: will the auctioning of Gandhi’s memorabilia stop? No. Because the people who purchased Gandhiji’s memorabilia recently or earlier, will sell those items once again and once again they will be auctioned and a profit will be made. This process will probably never stop.
The last time when an auction was held, then news was published in newspapers that Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh were very annoyed that no steps had been taken to stop the auction and bring back the memorabilia to the country. It seems that it has become a habit with the Congress party or it has become a strategy of the Government that after every mistake, news is spread through the media that Sonia Gandhi is angry or Rahul Gandhi is sad. Now, the people of the country no longer put their faith in media reports because they know that if the Congress party had even the slightest concern for Mahatma Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi would have directed Manmohan Singh and the continuous auctions of Gandhi’s memorabilia could have been stopped. Unfortunately, in such cases, even the Opposition parties in the country are silent. Actually, enmeshed in the race for power, the country’s political parties have sacrificed all ideological and political parameters. They have not only forgotten Gandhiji, they have also put his ideas and thoughts on the shelf. This is the reason why there is a stranglehold of lies and violence in politics. In such an atmosphere nobody has time to think of Bapu and this is also the country’s misfortune. But where there is dismay, the lotus of hope bloom there too. It is a matter of pride for every Indian that there are in the country personalities like Kamal Morarka. The last time when he had purchased Bapu’s memorabilia, every Indian had swelled with pride and was able to hold the head high on hearing that an Indian had bought the memorabilia.
Kamal Morarka is a well known capitalist of the country, but more than a capitalist, he is a patriot and a good man. The people with big money in the country should learn from Kamal Morarka how to sustain an almost fanatical obsessional attachment for the country and how to keep alive the prestige and honour of the country.
It is a matter of regret that during this auction, a sample of Gandhi’s blood was also auctioned. This blood sample of Bapu belongs to the year 1924, when he had an appendix operation. After the surgery he had stopped in Bombay (now Mumbai) for his health to improve. It is said that he had given this blood sample to the family with whom he stayed while in Bombay (Mumbai). The auctioning agency had put a value of 10000 pounds on this blood sample, but nobody gave a higher bid for it and it was auctioned for 7000 pounds. Who bought the blood sample and with whom it is today has not been public. Now the question is that if some cloning laboratory gets it hands on this blood sample and starts cloning Gandhiji, what will happen? Now, no one but a scientist can tell whether DNA can be obtained from the blood sample, but there can be no denying that it can also be misused or put to wrong use. The Government should find out immediately whom the blood sample is with, because there is a need to prevent or ban any wrong use.
The Government of India is very strange. It makes schemes in the name of Gandhi, but allows his memorabilia to be auctioned. The limit of insensitivity is that the Government has information of every auction. Each time there is an uproar in the media and Gandhiji’s descendants also keep raising their voice, but the Government is as little concerned as one would be if a tiny louse were to make its way over one’s ear. The last time when Gandhi’s memorabilia was auctioned, several Gandhian organisations were upset and protested. An appeal was made to the Prime Minister’s Office, many articles were published on this in newspapers, there were debates on TV too, but with no result. The Government kept sleeping like the proverbial Kumbhakaran and the auction gained so much from the publicity that the prices for Gandhi’s memorabilia shot up. If the Government has any sincere concern about the Father of the Nation, then it will have to take some strict steps. It will have to find a way to stop these auctions. A law should be made immediately in Parliament declaring all articles connected with Gandhiji to be a ‘national property’. Even otherwise, the first right over India’s historical heritage is that of Indians, therefore such articles should be with the Government of the country, should be in the museums too. The Government should find ways to stop such articles from getting into foreign and in private hands, otherwise we will become a laughing stock in the whole world, because after all, every buyer is not Kamal Morarka.
Bapu’s 16 items that were purchased by Kamal Morarka at an auction in London, to be brought to India.
1. A pair of leather ‘chappals’ (slippers).
2. Gandhiji’s ‘Mala’ (rosary).
3. A linen cap
4. A 5 inches metal tumbler for drinking water.
5. A lantern.
6. A thermos.
7. Gandhiji’s Ramayana.
8. Postage stamps.
9. Gandhiji’s statue of wood.
11. Columbia disc which contains Gandhiji’s message.
12. HMV disc, which contains a message of Gandhiji.
13. Hindustan record disc.
14. HMV disc with Nehru’s recording.
15. Poster of Gandhiji.
16. Illustration of Gandhiji made by Shyam Sunder Lal.