On the eve of Gandhi Jayanti, the luxury pen maker Mont Blanc has announced a “limited-series” pen on the Father of the Nation to commemorate the 1930 Dandi March.
The cost: Rs 14 lakh, yes, Rs 1,400,000.
Exactly 241 pieces of the pen will be available worldwide to mark the 241-mile march.
Each pen will come with a gold wire entwined by hand around the middle, which “evokes the roughly wound yarn on the charkha with which Gandhi spun everyday.” And the nib of each pen, which will have an inscripition of Gandhi holding his lathi, will be made of hand-crafted rhodium plated 18-carat gold.
There is also the ‘Mahatma Gandhi Limited Edition 3000’ pen. Three thousand pieces each of the fountain and roller ball point will be available worldwide.
Its cost: Rs 1.7 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh respectively.
The “limited edition” pens celebrating a man of the masses has the approval of the Mahatma’s maverick great-grandson Tushar Gandhi (in picture). And there’s a parochial link to the project. The head of Mont Blanc’s Indian operations is the former Indian left-arm spinner,Dilip Doshi, born, like the Mahatma, in Vibrant Gujarat.
Still, there are some obvious questions to be asked of this monetisation of the Mahatma’s image. And reader Sujatha Vijayaraghavan, in a letter to the editor of The Hindu, asks one of them:
“Is it not ironical to remember one who lived like the poorest of the poor by issuing a pen that only the richest of the rich can buy?
“If Mont Blanc wants to pay homage to the Mahatma, it should contribute the sale proceeds towards providing roads, drinking water, electricity, sanitation and schools to 241 villages in India. And if the company wants to spread the message of Gandhiji, it should bring out an inexpensive, unlimited edition of pens with his face and message and offer it free to every child the world over.”