Hundreds of thousands spent on memorabilia associated with Indian independence leader - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 22 May 2013

He was the man who famously shunned worldly possessions, dressing in the basic clothes of an Indian villager.


Hundreds of thousands spent on memorabilia associated with Indian independence leader

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 22 May 2013


By Adi Bloom

He was the man who famously shunned worldly possessions, dressing in the basic clothes of an Indian villager.

But, 65 years after Mahatma Gandhi’s death, his peasant outfit is affordable only to those with an excess of worldly goods.

At an auction held in Shropshire, England, this week, items belonging to the Indian independence leader and champion of non-violent civil disobedience raised more than £250,000.

His homespun linen shawl, draped over his loincloth and bare chest in cold weather, sold for more than £40,000. And his leather flip-flops sold for £19,000 – £9,000 more than their asking price.

Lots also included Gandhi’s roughly hewn drinking vessel and eating bowl. The former fetched £8,000, the latter £12,000.

The highest price paid at Tuesday’s auction was for a two-page will and testament, written in Gandhi’s mother tongue of Gujarati, and signed by him in the same language. This sold for £55,000, considerably more than the £30,000-£40,000 guide price.

The 50 Gandhi-related items went under the hammer alongside other historical objects. Mullock’s, the auctioneers, said that they were very pleased with the outcome of the auction.

Similarly, there was no buyer for a sample of Gandhi’s blood on a microscope slide, which Gandhi – known as Mahatma, or “great soul” – gave to a friend in 1920, after undergoing an appendix operation. The reserve price for the blood was £10,000, but the highest bid received was several thousand pounds lower.

Thirteen other items also failed to sell. However, the remaining 36 lots – including a 1932 British parliamentary paper, which declared Gandhi a terrorist, plus his bed linen and prayer beads – fetched £287,000 in total.

There were only about 30 bidders present at the Ludlow Racecourse auction. But the event was also followed by various Gandhi enthusiasts around the world.

In the past, the Indian government has insisted that it should have first right of refusal over any Gandhi artefacts, as they are considered national treasures. However, speaking shortly before the auction, a spokesman for Mullock’s said that no official bids had been received from Indian government departments.



Questions for discussion or further research:

  • Who was Mahatma Gandhi? Why might people be prepared to pay a lot of money to own something that belonged to him?
  • In your opinion, where should the money from the sale of these artefacts go?
  • Gandhi was a "champion of non-violent civil disobedience". What does this mean?
  • What kind of legacy has Gandhi left behind? Find out about people and movements influenced by his work.

Resources for you


KS3 Gandhi

  • Intended for a low ability Year 8 group, this presentation and activities makes for varied lesson.

GCSE RE: Gandhi and equality

  • A detailed PowerPoint with photos, quotes and key dates in Gandhi’s life.

Year 6: Gandhi and India

  • Explore cross-curricular links with History and Geography in this scheme of work about India and Gandhi.

Organise your own charity auction

  • This useful resource contains a guide and materials to help organise a charity auction at your school.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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