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Government to stop sale of revised edition of Mahatma Gandhi’s works

Saturday 18 June 2005

Special Correspondent

Original version declared "official edition," purchasers of erroneous version to get concordance table

The basis on which the new series was launched, as well as the names of the scholars chosen by the NDA regime to undertake the revision could not be established by the committee.

NEW DELHI: The Government has decided to stop the sale of the revised edition of the 100-volume Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG) and revert to the original edition that was replaced during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime in 1999. The decision was taken as per the recommendations of a committee set up by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government to look into many complaints of "innumerable errors and misleading deletions" in the revised edition.

The decision was announced here on Friday by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister S. Jaipal Reddy. The Ministry has now declared the original edition as the "official edition." For the benefit of the 2,000-odd individuals/institutions who have purchased the revised edition, a concordance table will be made available. The CD-ROM - released along with the revised version - will also be revised and contain the facsimile of the original edition.

The committee was set up by the Ministry earlier this year to look into the complaints after it became evident that there were many defects in the revised edition to render "any remedy impossible."

The committee was chaired by Narayan Desai and included noted biographer B. R. Nanda and J. P. Uniyal, who was involved with the original for over two decades.

In December last, the Government told Parliament that the complaints in the "revised reprint" of the CWMG had been found to be true. However, the basis on which the new series was launched has not been established. Neither could the enquiries establish the names of the scholars chosen by the then regime to undertake the revision. In view of the large number of complaints, the NDA regime itself had initiated efforts to take corrective steps in November 2003.

The revised edition of the CWMG was brought out by the Publications Division along with the CD-Rom version, which includes 30 minutes of film footage, over 550 photographs and 15 minutes of Mahatma Gandhi’s voice.

However, following the release, Gandhian institutions and other organisations, including Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (Ahmedabad), Servants of the People Society (New Delhi), Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF), Gandhi Smarak Nidhi (New Delhi), Gujarat Vidyapith (Ahmedabad), and Albert Einstein Institution (USA), sent in complaints about errors, omissions and deletions.

After the UPA Government took charge, three Gandhian institutions - Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Sarva Seva Sangh, Sevagram (Wardha) and GPF - demanded a ban on the "revised reprint" of the CWMG and urged the Government to pass a law treating the original 100-volume collection as a national heritage and to take steps against any effort to tamper with it in future.

Stating that there were 500 omissions in the CD version of the collected works and nearly 500 deletions in the revised printed version, they demanded their withdrawal and the reprint of the original volumes.

Referring to the Publisher’s Note to the "revised reprint" - wherein the changes are justified on the premise that "reports of his [Gandhiji’s] speeches, interviews and conversations which did not seem to be authentic have been avoided as also reports of his statements in indirect form" - the three institutes said comparison with the original volumes makes it "difficult to believe that the changes have been done without a biased motive."

For his part, Mr. Reddy refused to comment on whether the omissions and deletions were "inadvertent or deliberate," maintaining that the CWMG was too sacred a project to be dragged into controversy and used to score political points.

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