New Delhi, Oct.3 (ANI): Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of India, would have wanted to share the 23,000 dollar special edition Montblanc fountain pen that has been named in his honour and is being offered around the world this year with the entire country, claims Lydia Powell, an Indian economics fellow with the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.
"But today in India affluence is not negative, at all. Today India's youth are more likely to look up to Bill Gates rather than Gandhi," she added.
The Washington Post quoted Neeraj Singh, a Montblanc representative for India, as saying that many Indian clients had already preordered the pen.
"We had a pen on Alexander the Great. We had a pen on Winston Churchill," he said.
"If you want to do something on an Indian personality, then nobody is greater than Mahatma," he added.
Some Gandhi loyalists, however, said India's founding father would have questioned why a public servant would spend 23,000 dollars on a pen in a country with a third of the world's malnourished children.
"This pen is really funny. Gandhi would say it should be tossed in the trash or, better, sold off to pay for water and power for the poor," said Amit Modi, secretary of Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram.
"Gandhi would have been ashamed," he added.
"I consider the Montblanc pen their acknowledgment of the greatness of Gandhi. They are doing it the only way they know how," said Gandhi's great grandson Tushar Gandhi, adding: "His writing implement was his greatest tool."
The Montblanc pen, unveiled for the celebration of what would have been Gandhi's 140th birthday on Friday, has prompted howls from Hindu groups and Gandhists who say the sticker price is the lifetime income of many of India's poor.
The limited-edition fountain pen in 18-carat solid gold is engraved with Gandhi's image and tricked out with a saffron-colored mandarin garnet on the clip and a rhodium-plated nib.
The pen honors the independence leader, known as Bapu or father, who fought against unbridled materialism and even eschewed imported luxuries as harmful to India's mostly agrarian economy.
Montblanc is issuing only 241 commemorative Gandhi pens, a number that highlights the amount of miles Gandhi walked in his famous 1930 "salt march" to the Arabian Sea, a successful act of civil disobedience against salt taxes levied by the British. (ANI)