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Indian ‘Vaccine Billionaire’ Cyrus Poonawalla Buys Gandhi’s Rare Portrait and his Letters

A rare 1931 pencil portrait of Mahatma Gandhi and a collection of his handwritten letters that went under the hammer at the Sothebys auction in London 

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Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi Spinning Charkha. Wikimedia
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  • Poonawalla bought the lot for 32,500 pounds (nearly Rs 27 lakh, saying he wanted to bring the historic and rare work back to India
  • The pencil portrait was drawn by artist John Henry Amshewitz
  • It features Gandhi focused on writing something and is inscribed with the words Truth is God/MK Gandhi/4.12.’31

London, July 12, 2017: A rare 1931 pencil portrait of Mahatma Gandhi and a collection of his handwritten letters that went under the hammer at the Sothebys auction here on Tuesday have been bought by noted Indian businessman Cyrus Poonawalla, popularly known as the ‘vaccine billionaire’.

Poonawalla founded the Serum Institute of India in 1966, today one of the world’s largest vaccine makers by volume, producing 1.3 billion doses annually.

Poonawalla bought the lot for 32,500 pounds (nearly Rs 27 lakh, saying he wanted to bring the historic and rare work back to India.

ALSO READ: Intense Discussion on Life of Kasturba Gandhi and her relationship with husband, Mahatma Gandhi

I am absolutely delighted to have acquired this beautiful signed image and to have the opportunity to bring a work of such historical value back to India.

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected and revered figures in the world and considered to be the father of our nation, and so to have such a rare and intimate depiction of him at work, and signed by the great man himself, is an incredible honour and an absolute pleasure, Poonawalla said in a statement.

The pencil portrait was drawn by artist John Henry Amshewitz. It features Gandhi focused on writing something and is inscribed with the words Truth is God/MK Gandhi/4.12.’31.

Gandhi usually refused to sit for formal photographs, let alone a portrait, making this an extremely rare portrayal of the political leader at work, Sotheby’s said in a statement.

Poonawalla has also bought a collection of Gandhi’s handwritten letters addressed to Sarat Chandra Bose and his family. (IANS)

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Ethnic Indian Jai Sears responds to complaint against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada

Jai Sears wrote in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier

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Gandhi
Mahatama Gandhi, leader of non violence

Jai Sears from Grenada, Caribbean has written a letter to editor in response to complaints against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada. Here is the text:

I write in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier and published in the Grenada newspaper, The New Today (Nov 3, 2017). In his letter, Rougier is asking the Government to remove the bust-statue of Gandhi which overlooks Sauteurs Bay in Grenada where East Indians arrived 160 years ago. Rougier’s opinion is based on the false notion that Gandhi was racist because the Mahatma reportedly considered Indians to be superior to black Africans when he referred to the latter as “kaffirs.”

Gandhi was only 27 years old when he made that contextual statement. If Rougier had done his research, he would have found that Nelson Mandela said: “Gandhi must be forgiven for these prejudices in the context of the time and the circumstances.” The quote can be found in “Gandhi the Prisoner” by Nelson Mandela published in 1995. Gandhi was a man; he was not god. And even god made mistakes.

In favour of Mahatama Gandhi
Photo of Jai Sears

Rougier must instead focus on the Gandhi’s vision of non-violent protest and his belief in satyagraha which inspired rebels and revolutionaries around the world. Gandhi’s ideas influenced leaders of the African National Congress and the struggle by Indians and blacks against white apartheid rule in South Africa. From as early as 1956 when he was 27 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”

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Following the success of his boycott, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles. The fact is that Gandhi saw people of all races, castes, colours and creeds as equal which led to his assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948. So who is this unknown Josiah Rougier? Is he as illustrious as the great Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King? And is he disagreeing with his possible heroes?

A friend to all.
Jai Sears
Grenada, Caribbean