Otis wants to donate more Gandhi items to India - for the poor

March 7th, 2009 - 11:25 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 7 (IANS) US collector James Otis has offered to donate a few more of Mahatma Gandhi’s belongings to India provided New Delhi agrees to his proposal to substantially increase its spending on healthcare for the poor.

“I have other Gandhi belongings. I would like to donate more items to the people of India to raise money for the poor,” said the Los Angeles based activist whose collection of five Gandhi items was bought by Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya in a New York auction for $1.8 billion.

“I had put up the items for auction for the cause of the poor,” Otis told IANS in a telephone interview from New York. “I will be getting $1 million from the auction. I will be donating every single penny of it for the cause of the underprivileged including those in India.”

The other Gandh items in his possession include a 1934 letter written in green crayon and signed Bapu, and the Mahatma’s last pathological blood report signed by Dr. B. L. Taneja of the Irwin Hospital dated “21/1/48″, nine days before his assassination.

The letter reads: “My dear Dorothy, Thank god the fast went off as well as it did. I am slowly but steadily gaining strength. Love. Bapu. 1934.”

Otis said he also has a 1924 telegram addressed to Gandhi by one Enayatullah, managing agent Tai company, Karachi with the Mahatma’s scribbled response.

The telegram reads: “Please stay with me when you come to Karachi. It will be good for noble cause.” To which Gandhi responds: “Thanks but before I come… I must know the cause…”

According to Otis, Gandhi used to scribble his responses on telegrams. The telegraph people would translate it and send back the original telegram for his records.

His colleague Lester Kurtz, a professor at George Mason University who also has a collection of Gandhi memorabilia, would also like to donate a unique sample of Gandhi’s blood from the site of his assassination mixed with ashes from his cremation.

Otis said they had not yet approached the Indian government with a fresh proposal that essentially remains the same that he had mooted to withdraw the Gandhi items from the New York auction.

He had also suggested that India sponsor a 78-country travelling exhibition of Gandhi memorabilia.

“I have more items of other great people associated with non-violence,” he said. These include a letter from Dr. Martin Luther King asking for support for the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, a United Farm Workers flag signed by Cesar Chavez, Jane Addam’s comb and brush from Hull House.

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