Killing Gandhi with Apathy, Every Day

I had been to Agha Khan Palace during my recent visit to Pune.

For starters, here’s a brief history primer:

Agha Khan Palace is a relatively comfortable bungalow where Mahatma Gandhi was interred during the Quit India movement. He was not confined in the regular jail because the British feared that if something happened to him in jail, due his frail health, the nation would explode in anger, which they wanted to avoid. He was also accompanied by Kasturba Gandhi, Miraben – his assistant, Mahadev Desai – his secretary, Pyarelal Nayar, Dr Sushila Nayar, and Saroini Naidu,  True to their fears,  Mahadev Desai died within a few days of reaching this place. Seven months later, when Sarojini Naidu fell ill, she was released unconditionally.  Two years later, Kasturba Gandhi died of a prolonged illness.

Both Mahadev Desai and Kasturba Gandhi are buried in this premise and a part of Gandhi’s ashes are also buried. This place is one of historically significant milestone in Gandhi’s life and has been declared as one of the protected monuments.

I approached this place with so much of awe and respect. The feeling that I’m going through one of history’s most hallowed pages gave me goose bumps. Alas, it did not last long. The place was an aesthetic mess and administrative rut. It was not the symbol of India’s great history, but a symptom of India’s apathy and (possibly) corruption. I was so depressed that, instead of taking pictures of the monument, I started taking pictures of its dilapidation.

I’m sharing these pictures here to share my agony and frustration. Please help spread the bad word. Let us shame those who are killing Gandhi every day with their apathy and corruption.

These are two separate photos of Gandhi and Ambedkar. Those who decided to put them together didn't bother to cut them properly. As you can see the photos are not only badly cut, they are also faded and damaged.

Is this painting complete or incomplete? The description doesn't help as it is smudged.

A loose wire was hanging in front of a picture which was in any case totally faded out and indecipherable.

Again, an unprofessional painting with some square holes cut into them. Are they locations in a map? Do they have any hidden pictures in them? We don't know!

 

A painted rendering of the famous picture of Gandhi and Nehru. Damaged again

Is it a painting, an illustration, a collage, and more importantly, was it put together by a five-year old?

Descriptions of pictures looking dirty, dusty and are peeled off.

One simple uncovered CFL bulb is expected to illuminate an entire hall. Expectedly it doesn't help.

Another collage by a five-year old.

Is this a painting, a faded photograph or a badly printed newspaper clip? And who is this gentleman standing next to Gandhi? Frontier Gandhi? Can't say as there is no description!

 

Another aesthetically-challenged label faded, peeled off and whitewashed over.

What's written there? Can you read it? Alas, you can't because there is not enough light on the other side of the room.

Did somebody tore off the picture? Perhaps they were too frustrated to see paled and damaged pictures around.

If you can guess what this picture is you are extremely perspective.

 

What do I complain about? Bad lighting, bad picture or badly printed labels!

 

Somebody please switch on the light? Or buy a bulb?

 

During her stay here, Karturbaji used this flag, this towel and the fan. If she returns she would be shocked to see how dirty these are today.

 

Agha Khan may be rich, but his trust which is managing the premise seems so poor that they are not even able to afford a plug. One short circuit or voltage fluctuation is enough to send Karturbaji's possessions to flames.

 

If the previous socket was meant to destroy Kasturbaji's possessions, this socket is intended to destroy Gandhiji's items during voltage fluctuations.

 

Some of the articles used by Gandhiji during his stay. Quite difficult to make out what they are due to the bad lighting.

 

Are they old newspapers? Some administrative notice? Or toilet-cleaning rota in 1942? Who knows!

 

Some of Gandhiji's articles. The caretakers of this place clearly doesn't know that there are techniques available to preserve historic artefacts.

 

Cleanliness was one among Gandhiji's several obsessions, and if he were to see the condition of his clothes, he would start another Satyagraha.

 

I'm sure these chairs weren't there during Gandhi's time. There is no reason why they are on display.

 

What is this storage unit doing in the middle of the museum? How is it connected to the history of this place?

 

The more we look at it, the more we get depressed.

 

Sarojini Naidu is an avid reader and you'd think she must have read a lot of books during her imprisonment here and those books would be on display.

 

Alas, you would be wrong if you did.

 

Since Sarojini Naidu wasn't a voracious reader, those maintaining the heritage site thought it's best to put her library to good use: to dump disused and broken furniture.

 

Was Sarojini Naidu trying to escape through this window? History is silent on this question.

 

Soon this beam is going to kill a few people whilst they are busy praying at Kasturba's Samadhi. When that happens, NDTV and CNN-IBN would cover the dilapidated state of this place. Hopefully.