Indian government acquires Gandhi-Kallanbach archives

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Mahatma Gandhi
[PHOTO: Archives] 
New Delhi:  India’s Union Minister of Culture Kumari Selja on Tuesday informed that an agreement had been signed to acquire the Gandhi Kallanbach Archives, which have now been withdrawn from the proposed Sotheby’s auction.

While reiterating that the Government of India attaches the highest importance to the archival materials and artefacts relating to the leaders of our National movement, she said that the acquired material would be housed in the National Archives of India (NAI).

Agreement was finalized in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs and National Archives of India and signed by the three parties concerned ie. Government of India, Sotheby’s and the Sarid family. The payment of GBP 825,250 has been released to Sotheby’s and the lot has been withdrawn from auction and sold to the Government of India.

It may be recalled that in the light of the opinions expressed by Prof. Ramachandra Guha and Prof. Sunil Khilnani regarding the historical value of Gandhi-Kallenbach papers which were in the possession of Dr. Isa Sarid, the grandniece of Hermann Kallenbach, efforts were initiated to acquire the papers. The Sarid family had quoted USD 5 million for the archives. This offer was considered unacceptable by the Government of India. Finally it was settled at GBP 825250, which is equal to USD 1.28 million only.

A five member Committee, led by Prof. Mushirul Hasan, Director General, National Archives, was earlier deputed to Sotheby’s, London to examine the archival material for authenticity and historical value.

The Committee had recommended that in view of the historical importance of the material, the entire archive may be acquired as a matter of highest priority.

After discussions with Sothebys a final offer for the entire Gandhi-Kallenbach archival material was made and the deal clinched.
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