Indian gov't objects to sale of Mahatma Gandhi items

We can only wonder how Mahatma Gandhi would have reacted to people paying top dollar for his possessions. It looks like they're the new status symbols for the world's cash-rich set.

Agence France-Presse (AFP), via ABS-CBNNews.com, reports: "Today, Gandhi memorabilia is auctioned off in New York and London with his scant personal possessions attracting sky high prices, while his image is used on pens, billboards and souvenirs."

The auction that allegedly started the Gandhi memorabilia craze.

Gandhi items started to become more popular just last year when his glasses, leather sandals, pocket watch, metal plate and bowl were put on auction in the US. This triggered a major public debate over exploitation of his memory. The Indian government tried to prevent the auction. However, just as they seemed ready to buy the items, Indian industrialist Vijay Mallaya stepped in with a winning bid of $1.8 million.

Next, British businessmen Ghulam Noon and Nat Puri paid $26,000 for letters written by Gandhi and a piece of cloth that he had signed at a London auction.

India's ministry of culture say it is preparing further legislation to prevent Gandhi's belongings being traded for money and to protect his image from being misused.   An official told AFP, "We want to preempt any auction of Gandhi items. Selling or buying these heritage articles should be illegal but sadly most of the items have already changed hands."

For many of his countrymen, "the contrast is stark between Gandhi's simple, anti-materialistic lifestyle and the commercial frenzy over his paltry belongings and saintly image."

Alas, many want to cash in on Gandhi items. Last February, for instance, amid protests, Montblanc suspended sales in India of a "Gandhi" pen that cost $25,000.

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