A US-based private collector has set off a firestorm of controversy for putting a handful of Mahatma Gandhi’s possessions on a New York city auction block. Gandhi’s descendants and some Indian politicians are trying to raise money for the memorabilia, or broker an agreement to obtain them.
Public money shouldn’t be wasted on such trivial celebrity worship of Gandhi. For India, the relevance of the Mahatma is not in his glasses or sandals, and appreciation of him can be expressed in other, more meaningful ways.
The collector says he’s a devotee of Gandhian non-violence, but has curiously acquired Gandhi’s spectacles, sandals and pocket watch, among other things. While collecting his material wares appears inconsistent with Gandhian ideologies, the collector is more than welcome to sell the items—which were legally obtained—as that’s his own personal business.
But public money shouldn’t be wasted to accumulate Gandhian memorabilia, which skirts the larger importance of Gandhism for India.