The spirit of Gandhi

A priceless series of letters written by Mahatma Gandhi and a signed cloth were presented to the President of India Mrs Pratibha Devisingh Patil at India House on the occasion of her state visit to the UK.

The items were bought for £17,500 at auction by two prominent members of the Indian diaspora, Sir Ghulam Noon, fondly known as Britain’s Curry King, and businessman and philanthropist Nathu Ram Pur.

Among the memorabilia are three autographed letters from Gandhi to Maulana Abdul Bari, an Islamic scholar, referring to Hindu-Muslim relations, including communal tension in Lucknow, and their personal friendship. One letter was written from prison, in which he thanks Abdul Bari for the gift of cotton for spinning.

The Khadi cloth signed by Gandhi is said to have been woven by the great man himself and was a gift from Gandhi to South African-born actress Moira Lister.

Visibly moved in receiving these gifts, the Indian President said: “Gandhi was a spirit which went across, not only in our country, but crossed the world, crossed the mountains and seas and reached many countries, and many leaders like Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela.”

Sir Ghulam Noon (left) and Nathu Ram Pur present India’s President
with a Khadi cloth signed by Gandhi