For over two years now, the Sabarmati Ashram Memorial Trust has been working on launching an inclusive Gandhi Heritage Portal, but on Sunday, Germany-based Gandhi collector Peter Ruhe launched his much-touted portal www.gandhimedia.org. He claims it’s been launched with the aim of virtually “bringing Mahatma Gandhi to life”.
Ruhe has been accused by many of acquiring photographs and other memorabilia from India and Gandhi’s family over the past several years in an ‘unfair’ manner. However, the portal has now gone live wherein photographs, cartoons, audio and video recordings etc can be bought online. Ruhe claims the portal is an authentic and comprehensive archive created after 30 years of research and contributions from scholars, associates and Gandhi’s family members.
But the Ahmedabad team is not perturbed with Ruhe’s portal. It’s a commercial venture, they say, and not necessarily authentic. “We are working on the most authentic and exhaustive source of any and every information on Gandhi. Ruhe’s attempts are good. We’re about two months away from officially launching the portal,” said project director BS Bhatia.
Ashram Trustee Kartikeya Sarabhai said Ruhe’s efforts are good but very different from Ashram’s project. “Our verification process of all information is elaborate. However, so much interest in Gandhi is only a good thing,” he said.
Ruhe meanwhile claims to have gathered audio-visual material from over 600 sources all over the world in the last decade. He has claimed that Gandhi’s youngest son Devadas had a dream: to visually document his father’s life day by day. In the 1950s, he contributed to it by putting together the first major collection of film footage and photographs on his father for the Gandhi Films Committee, which made for the later production of Vithalbhai Jhaveri’s cinematographic venture MAHATMA and Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi.
Gandhi’s grand-nephew Kanu was with him for the last 12 years of his life. He was the only one allowed to take Gandhi’s photograph. His entire collection can now be viewed and downloaded, and so can the works and collections of Jagan Mehta, Datta Khopker, Vithalbhai Jhaveri, Counsic Brothers and many others.