This week marked the 140th anniversary of the birth of Indian independence pioneer Mahatma Gandhi. And to commemorate a man who chose a life of poverty and shunned material goods, Montblanc has created a limited-edition pen with an 18K gold nib and a price of just $25,000.
The pen, in an edition of 241 (a reference to Gandhi’s 241-mile tax-protest walk in 1930), also includes a 26-foot golden thread, meant to symbolize Gandhi’s ascetic lifestyle, which included weaving his own simple clothing from cotton thread.
Followers of Gandhi’s legacy expressed surprise over the pen. “Mahatma Gandhi advocated a simple lifestyle,” said Dijo Kappen of the Center for Consumer Education in Kerala:
“He was, of course, a nationalist and, in the nature of the independence movement, the only thing he promoted was Indian-made goods. It is a mockery of the great man and an insult to the nation… to use him as a poster boy.”
Kappen’s group has filed a lawsuit against Montblanc to stop the pen from being sold.
Montblanc produced the pen with the endorsement of Gandhi’s great-grandson, Tushar Gandhi, whose foundation has received $145,000 from the company. For each additional pen sold, the company will add aother $200 to $1,000.
Tushar Gandhi, while admitting that his great-grandfather “wouldn’t have used the pen,” defended it as Montblanc’s “acknowledgment of the greatness of Gandhi.” The pen, he said is about taking Gandhi’s message of nonviolence and tolerance forward, “and what better way than with a writing instrument? In a world traumatized by violence, a pen reaffirms faith in dialogue.” We kind of like that sentiment, though we think we’d probably be able to embrace the concept just as easily with a $2 Pilot VBall as with a $25,000 Montblanc.
Anger at Montblanc’s Gandhi pen [BBC NEWS]