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India steps up efforts to obtain Gandhi auction items

Video by FRANCE 24 , FRANCE 2

Latest update : 2009-03-09

A day before an auction in New York is to sell personal items which belonged to Mahatma Gandhi, including his famous round glasses and sandals, India is stepping up its diplomatic efforts to obtain the objects, and may even bid for them.

AFP - India has ordered its diplomats in the US to try to obtain personal effects of iconic independence leader Mahatma Gandhi that are soon to be auctioned off in New York, officials said Wednesday.

The foreign ministry in New Delhi said last-minute meetings were being held with Antiquorum Auctioneers ahead of Thursday's sale of the items, which India wants returned to the country for public display.

Indian diplomats have contacted California-based James Otis, the collector behind the upcoming auction, the ministry said, and may even bid for the belongings, which include his trademark round glasses and pocket watch.



"We have asked our embassy in Washington and Consulate General of India in New York to do everything that is required through the bidding process or otherwise," junior foreign minister Anand Sharma said.

Antiquorum has insisted the sale will go ahead and put an estimate of 20,000 to 30,000 dollars on the items, which will sell as a single lot.

The final price is expected to be considerably higher, partly thanks to the publicity generated by the row in India over the sale.

Gandhi's great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi, said the auction was a "grave insult" and has appealed to the Indian government to act.

Mahatma Gandhi, who eschewed material possessions, led India's freedom movement against British rule and was assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu fanatic in 1948, a year after independence.

Date created : 2009-03-04