The article “Economy of words and writing” (Oct. 2) brilliantly portrays Gandhiji’s austerity and simple living. The Hindu deserves praise for publishing it on the Mahatma’s birthday.
It is unfortunate that Gandhiji who preached and practised simple living is now being used to market high-end articles. It is insensitive on the part of Mont Blanc to launch a product which is beyond the common man’s reach, after one who epitomised simplicity and austerity.
Selling a pen in the name of Gandhiji for more than a lakh of rupees is nothing but a mockery of his memory, principles and India itself. Gandhiji lived for those reeling under poverty, and it is ironical to find millionaires expanding their fortunes using his name.
Everyone has a right to use Gandhiji’s image but using it on a pen that is exorbitantly priced is nowhere near his ideals. Gandhiji is identified with half-naked starving Indians and poverty, not with exclusive items meant for the rich. Of what use is his idolisation in a world that has forgotten his ideals? Unfortunately, his ideal of a peaceful world based on mutual respect is hardly discussed as much as his pens are.
We forfeited our right to speak up for the Mahatma, first by shooting him down in January 1948, when our Independence was barely 169 days old, and then by banishing from our life his teachings. Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s article is welcome as it has made the Mahatma himself speak against the commercial exploitation of his name and image. There cannot be a stronger condemnation of the reported use of his image on the Mont Blanc pen.
A corporate brand has brought out a luxurious item as a mark of respect to the universal symbol of simple living. While there is nothing condemnable in the move as such, it would be appropriate for Mont Blanc to launch a Mahatma pen that is affordable to children belonging to poor families too.
Why fret over something that shows the world the admiration of an internationally acclaimed pen manufacturer for our leader? We have long forgotten to revere the values preached by Gandhiji. Aren’t our government offices, all of which sport portraits of the leader, hotbeds of corruption? Aren’t Gandhiji’s statues in several cities gathering dust and in a dilapidated condition? From the Indian brain to the Mahatma brand, we need a foreign connection to realise the importance and value.
Whatever the business interests involved, we should take pride in the fact that an internationally reputed company has placed such a high value on Brand Mahatma. This is indeed a fitting tribute to the great leader.
Sunil P. Shenoy,