Today, Montblanc, the luxury Swiss penmaker, issued a £15,500 ($24,673) fountain pen to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Ghandi.
Gandhi's birthday marked with opulence by Montblanc
Friday 2 October 200
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For Mahatma Gandhi, one of history's best known non-violent activists, the pen was indeed mightier than the sword. But a luxury, limited-edition fountain pen created by Montblanc, the luxury Swiss penmaker, to commemorate the 140th anniversary of his birth today, has caused controversy for being at odds with Gandhi's simpler side.
The £15,500 pen features an engraving of Gandhi, a rhodium-plated nib, a saffron-coloured opal and a booklet of quotes from the father of Indian independence, affectionately known in India as "Bapu". The pen, which is aimed at the growing Indian market for luxury goods, also comes with an eight metre golden thread which can be wound around the pen - reminiscent of the spindle Gandhi often used.
Montblanc said only 241 of the fountain pens have been made to commemorate the number of miles Gandhi walked in his famous "salt march" of 1930, in which he led a mass protest against salt taxes levied by the British.
But critics of the pen have denounced the use of the Indian icon as a "brand ambassador." Amit Modi, secretary of the Sabarmati Ashram and opened by 92 years ago, said: "If he had seen this, he would have thrown it away. I cannot imagine why anybody has done this."
But despite the cost - in a country where over 450million people earn less than 80p a day - Montblanc said the pen helped bring Gandhi, who was assassinated on January 30, 1948, back into people's consciousness, and that it was not at odds with his ascetic beliefs.
"Whatever brings Gandhi and his ideas back to mind can only be good," said Oliver Goessler, Montblanc's regional director for India, Africa and the Middle East.
"It's not an opulent pen. It's a writing instrument that's very pure," he said.
Goessler said a £130 to £700 would be given to a charitable foundation for each pen sold. Sales of the pen were "really spectacular", he added.