India buys Gandhi-Kellenbach archive



London: The Indian government has signed a contract with auctioneers Sotheby's to purchase a large archive related to Mahatma Gandhi that was scheduled to go under the hammer on July 10.

Since the contract has been signed, the auction will not be held next week, sources in the Indian government said.

The archive contains thousands of letters, documents and photographs throw light on the controversial relationship between Gandhi and architect Hermann Kallenbach, and is expected to be a rich resource for researchers and historians.

The archive was recently examined by a team of experts from the Union Ministry of Culture, who reportedly described it as "very well preserved and of inestimable value".

The archive was expected to fetch a price between 500,000 and 700,000 pounds, but the price paid by the Indian government for the archive could not be ascertained today.

The auctioneer's Catalogue Note on the archive said it "is richly informative of the important (and occasionally misunderstood) friendship between the two men, and is a key biographical source for Gandhi".

The archive includes "poignant letters" by the deeply troubled Harilal, Gandhi's first son, and reveals Kallenbach's deep friendship in particular with Gandhi's second son Manilal, who remained living on Phoenix Settlement in South Africa, and his third son Ramdas.

"These letters, together with those by other family members, Mahadev Desai, and other of Gandhi's close associates in India, provide a detailed portrait of Gandhi's personal life in India," the Catalogue Note said.

It added: "This extraordinarily rich archive stands... As a testament to a hugely significant figure in the life of Gandhi and a key member of his inner circle."

PTI