Yesterday afternoon five of Mahatma Gandhi's personal effects were sold at an auction in New York for $1.8 million dollars. The items included his wire frame glasses with case, sandals, pocket watch, brass bowl and plate. The seller was American documentary filmmaker and self-proclaimed pacifist James Otis, who collects items from non-violent movements around the world.
When Gandhi's items went up for sale, the Indian Government went into an uproar feeling that the belongings of India's most spiritually and politically influential figure represent India's independence and fundamentally belong to India. Tense negotiations between Otis and the Indian government ensued, where at one point Otis said that he would sell the items to India on condition that the government provide better health care to its people. The Indian government declared "infringement of sovereignty" and negotiations struggled on. In the end, the items were sold to VJ Mallya, a wealthy Indian business man who will donate the items to the Indian government and Otis will put the money of his sale toward promoting pacifism.
India sees the return of these items as the return of their national treasure, Mohandas K. Gandhi, who led the first non-violent movement in modern history. Some see these objects as spiritual relics. In India, the sandals of a holy person are a place of pilgrimage and the root of great blessings.