President Patil receives Gandhi memorabilia in United Kingdom

Rare treasure includes a bunch of letter written by the Mahatma

President Pratibha Patil examines a collection of letters written by Mahatma Gandhi as they are presented to her by Sir Gulam Noon (L) and Professor Nat Puri (R) during a ceremony at the Indian High Commission in London on Wednesday. AFP

Among the items were three letters written in Urdu by Gandhi to his close associate and ‘Khilafat’ movement leader Maulana Abdul Bari, a piece of white Khadi cloth gifted by him to a South African actress and some autographed postcards.

At a function in the Indian High Commission, the rare articles were handed over to Patil by NRI entrepreneurs Sir Gulam K Noon and Nathu Puri, who had procured them in an auction in July. The President had earlier said receiving these items would be a “high point” of her visit to the UK.

Content of letters

“...Please advise people to be calm and carry out swadeshi,” wrote Gandhi in one of the letters, asking Bari to work for calming tensions between Hindus and Muslims in Lucknow. In another, Gandhi thanked him for the gift of cotton for spinning.

The hand-woven cloth with a simple border and signed by Gandhi and Sarojini Naidu was a gift to actress Moria Listler.

“Gandhi is not the property of India only but the whole world. His philosophy is relevant in today’s world. Even the UN has accepted the relevance of this philosophy by declaring October 2 as International Day of Non-violence,” Patil said.

“Gandhiji’s ideology can be a very powerful instrument for building a peaceful and a tolerant world,” she said at the function, which was attended by the who’s who of Indian diaspora including Lord Swraj Paul, S P Hinduja and Indian High Commissioner Nalin Surie.

“His  vision of a participatory democracy, overall development especially of rural areas and building an equitable society, has been guiding the nation. He has a special place in our hearts and articles associated with him has a special meaning for every Indian,” the President said.

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