I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.
They weren’t able to blow him off his feet when he was alive, but more than 60 years after he was assassinated the Capitalists have successfully contrived in trafficking his memorabilia in to the bargaining market, being looked on by a helpless Indian Gov. As more and more ‘possessions’ of Mahatma Gandhi are set to go under the hammer in the auction houses around the world, the Western world has selfishly forgotten the ills for which the Mahatma himself fought against.
An ardent Socialist throughout his life, Gandhi fought for the rights of the ignorant peasants and landless millions. He had realized, by his experiments with life, that Socialism was the only way forward for India as well as the world. The man who so much exhorted to care less for material wealth and concentrate on the equality for all is now being marketed as a corporate brand in this age of conspicuous consumption.
Many of Gandhi’s meager belongings like the iconic wire-rimmed glasses, the Charkha, many letters; for Gandhi was a prolific writer in English & Gujarati and other bare necessities have been acquired by the Western Capitalist houses. Some have been sold off to private parties for millions, while a few the Indian Gov. has been able to get back reportedly after paying off large sums of money. Sure, Gandhi and his legacy is cherished the world over and there will an obvious clamor for treasuring his souvenirs. This, in corporate lingo is a viable ‘market’ for selling their wares. So they package and market Gandhi, who’ll then be bought by some rich billionaire to have become his private ownership soon thereafter.
This is a shameful travesty of the man himself because Gandhi throughout his lifetime advocated for minimalist possessions and would have vehemently protested against private individuals amassing his so-called wealth. Indeed, these could have been carefully preserved in museums and made open to the public, so that people from all walks of life could be in touch with the force that was the Mahatma.
The irony is compounded even more by India’s archaic Customs laws, which forbids anyone to deal in historical or cultural artifacts. Someone wishing to do so would have to undergo a lengthy bureaucratic procedure in obtaining special permissions for the same. This virtually puts off the many wealthy Indian expatriates who are eager to buy them from the auctioning houses and donate the same to the Indian Govt.
Only liquor Baron Vijay Mallya was able to retrieve some of them for a whopping $1.8 million to be dutifully returned to the Indian Gov. whose last-minute negotiations failed, like in so many other cases. The irony persists however that someone who made a fortune selling alcohol came to the rescue of a man who had fought all his life to eradicate alcoholism from the society.
But many more of his items remain, to be sold off to the wealthy snobs at appropriate market controlled times and prices.
As long as there exists the capitalist model of ‘development’, these auctioning houses will flourish and man’s greed for meaningless possessions shall increase. It is time to ponder upon Gandhi’s model of Socialism and Sarvodaya, the welfare for all. Or else the time’s not far when even these sacred idols of social justice shall be marketed by the Western powers as mere commodities.