from NPR.org - All Things Considered, March 5, 2009
Indian Company Buys Gandhi's Belongings for $1.8 M
The man who had Gandhi's personal effects in his possession, James Otis, claimed he was selling the items to raise money to promote pacifism. He had offered to give the brass bowl and plate, eyeglasses, pocket watch and sandals to the Indian government but with two conditions: that the Indian government increase its spending on health care for its citizens and that Gandhi's things be sent on a world tour. The Indian government, threatening legal action before the auction, rejected the conditions (claiming their rightful sovereignty), saying that they would bid on the items as they are part of India's heritage. In the end they were purchased by an Indian businessman, who then donated them to the Indian government.
What gets me is that James Otis, an avowed collector of items pertaining to nonviolence, does not view money and the selling of a modern saint's modest possessions as part of, or contributing to, violence. As it was, he started a fight. If he truly wanted to promote nonviolence, he would have given them to the Indian government with no fanfare, no publicity, no strings attached ...anonymously.
I think Gandhi would have preferred that his things fade into obscurity, performing their function for someone who needed them. Now they'll be treated like holy relics.