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Mar 05, 2009 at 05:30pm IST

Otis to send letter to Indian envoy

New York: James Otis, the current owner of some of the belongings of Mahatma Gandhi that are to be auctioned on Thursday, is going to present a letter to the Indian Consulate in New York.

CNN-IBN has a copy of the proposal letter of Otis in which he has written that he is ready to concede to the India's demand of returning Gandhi's possessions on two conditions.

The first condition is that the Indian government must agrees to increase it's Budget spending on health care for the poor and the second condition is to provide financial support and the good offices of Indian embassies to support educational events that use Gandhi items to promote Gandhian non-violent resistance in 78 countries around the world.

He has mentioned about 78 countries around the world which is one for each of the number of years Gandhiji lived.

Gandhi's personal belongings that are to be auctioned include a Zenith pocket watch, a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles, a pair of sandals and an eating bowl and plate.

The auction is scheduled in New York at Antiquorum Auctioneers on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is also busy ensuring that Gandhiji's belongings don't go under the hammer.

The options available with India include:

  • It can negotiate with the owner to have him give the items to India.
  • It could buy the items from the Antiquorum Auction House ahead of the auction which starts early Friday morning India time.
  • It could get the Indo-American community members like hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal to bid on behalf of India at the auction.
  • It could try and seek legal help. For instance, India can approach a New York court and try and get a stay on the auction.

So far the auction house has refused the Indian government’s offer to buy the items at the reserve price of $30,000, the initial reserve price set for the items.

Chatwal has already said that he would go all out to save the priceless memorabilia and bring them home to India

"There has been no progress so far. Otis and the owners are just playing around trying to maximise profits from this. We will go to the auction tomorrow. The prices have increased but money is not an issue. Whatever is needed will be paid. Our aim is to bring the items home. We do not want to keep them. We will bid for them and bring them back to India," said Chatwal.

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