Experts say elitist Gandhi pen risks possibility of a backlash

Posted By: Staff
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London, Oct.1 (ANI): Well known Swiss pen manufacturer Montblanc's decision to unveil a gold and silver fountain pen to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi, the spearhead of India's independence movement in the early part of the 20th century, has provoked criticism and risks the possibility of a backlash.

Suhel Seth, a brand expert with Counselage, a Delhi marketing firm, said using the image of Gandhi "risked a backlash".

"Look at the illogical marketing. Montblanc is an elite product, a luxury product. Gandhi stood for everything that was non-elitist. Here is a pen that uses the idiom of a man who believed in third-class travel to promote a first-world product to luxurious desktops," the Financial Times quoted Seth, as saying.

"I think it's such a misread of the Indian psyche. When you tinker around with that symbol of credibility, respect and honour, you risk a backlash that no brand needs or deserves," he added.

Amit Modi, secretary of the 102-year-old Sabarmati Ashram that Gandhi founded to promote his ideas of radical egalitarianism and simple living, said: "If he had seen this, he would have thrown it away."

"I cannot imagine why anybody has done this. We cannot recognise this," The Telegraph quoted him as saying further.

Tushar Gandhi, the Mahatma's great-grandson, who received 91,500 pounds as payment from Montblanc to build a shelter for rescued child labourers, told the Financial Times that: "I know there is a contradiction between the man they are commemorating and the product they are commemorating him with, but you can't expect a company like Montblanc to come out with a cheap thing."

The limited-edition pen, priced at 14,400 pounds, has an 18-carat solid gold, rhodium-plated nib, and "a saffron-coloured mandarin garnet" on the clip.

The pen is also engraved with Gandhi's image, despite the fact that Indian companies generally avoid using it, given his exalted status. (ANI)

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