This refers to the news that Mont Blanc has decided to come out with a limited series pen on Gandhiji, the prices of which range from Rs.1.5 lakh to Rs.14 lakh. 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.
I am reminded of the ‘Ratnam’ pen which was launched in Rajamundhry in the 1930s in response to the call given by Gandhiji to boycott foreign goods. K.V. Ratnam, who was in the gold business, was a great follower of Gandhiji. He was also engaged in the manufacture of lithogrophic blocks. In 1921, the Mahatma advised him to manufacture goods that were a good substitute to foreign products. When the call for the boycott of foreign goods intensified, Ratnam decided to manufacture nibs which were a foreign monopoly. He first made a golden nib and presented it to a sub-judge. In 1932, Nyapati Subbarao Pantulu ordered the first Ratnam pen. The nib was made of silver. Ratnam made a pen in ebonite material and sent it to Gandhiji. The Mahatma wrote from Wardha thanking him.