Not necessary to bring Mahatma Gandhi’s items back to India: Granddaughter

Preservation of Mahatma Gandhi`s belongings is important and any items related to him which are well preserved outside need not necessarily be brought back home, feel his kin.

Last Updated: Feb 17, 2013, 12:59 PM IST

New Delhi: Preservation of Mahatma Gandhi`s belongings is important and any items related to him which are well preserved outside need not necessarily be brought back home, feel his kin.

"I don`t like the idea that everything belonging to Gandhiji should return to India. If something is well preserved outside India, these should be allowed to remain there. He was a universal human being," says Gandhi`s 78-year-old granddaughter Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee.

She, however, does like a price tag to be put on Gandhiji`s belongings.

"All things belonging to Gandhiji are priceless and we`re putting a price tag on these. I don`t want a price tag to be put," Bhattacharjee, whose book "Reflections Of An Extraordinary Era" hit the stands recently, told a news agency.

Her son Vinayak says Gandhi didn`t have many belongings as he lead a minimalist life and shunned material possessions.

"So it is a mystery from where all these `possessions` are emerging. This said if someone owns items said to be of Bapuji, he or she is free to do with it as he pleases. We can`t be so presumptuous to maintain that we know better," he contends on the issue of auctioning of Gandhiji`s belongings.

"With this perspective, the auction process is actually quite useful in bringing genuine possessions into public and national ownership in the cleanest and most transparent way. The bigger issue is that, apart from letters, it is very difficult to prove that specific items were genuinely owned or worn by Bapuji."

"Reflections Of An Extraordinary Era" is a translation of Bhattacharjee`s 2009 work "Asadharan Yug Ke Sadharan Din".

Published by HarperCollins India, "Reflections Of An Extraordinary Era" has a foreword by Vinayak.

Bhattacharjee says "Reflections Of An Extraordinary Era" is about her memorable experiences with Gandhi when she was a child.

"It is not an academic research. It is for my children, it is about my little experiences with Gandhiji. My own spiritual journey is also reflected in the book," Bhattacharjee, daughter of Gandhi`s youngest son Devadas and Lakshmi, says.

She remembers being part of Gandhi`s evening prayers in Delhi, visiting him at the Aga Khan Palace where he was put under house arrest along with wife Kasturba and his secretary Mahadev Desai, and later meeting him in Shimla during her summer break from school.

Gandhi`s Satyagrah, his efforts to end social disparities at Harijan Ashram, his compassion for anyone who came seeking advice and his life as a family man, a parent and a grandfather are seen through the prism of a young Bhattacharjee`s impressions.

Asked if he plans to write a book on Gandhiji, London- based Vinayak says, "So much has already been written and I do not intend to write on Bapuji for the sake of it. If I have an unusual insight or perspective then I will consider it."

In the foreword he mentions about the attitude of users and consumers of public service.

"A culture of tolerance of substandard services has crept into society (consider Railways). Instead, to effect change and improve service levels people need to demand better standards. A nation is run for its citizens and residents and a government`s first role is to look after the interest of its people. People in turn must act responsibly and should not accept poor service nor should they feel that their own activities do not affect the standard of living of others," he says.