Saturday, October 03, 2009

Some way to honour the Mahatma!

This is something I just cannot not digest. The New Indian Express carried a story about Mont Blanc, the classic pen makers, bringing out a limited edition Rs 14 lakh pen on the Father of the Nation. Only 241 such pens would be available worldwide – inspired by the 241-mile Dandi march. There is also a cheaper edition of the pen, costing Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 1.7 lakh!

The report says that the pen comes with a gold wire entwined around the middle, to apparently evoke the roughly wound yarn on the spindle with which Gandhi spun everyday. Good heavens! Where lies a gold wire and a roughly wound yarn!

Did Mont Blanc find no better way of honouring the Mahatma? Come on, if Gandhi was known for one thing, it was frugality. He might have worn a three-piece suit during his early years in South Africa, but ever after he led the freedom struggle in India, the man was always seen bare-bodied, with a loin cloth covering him and a rudimentary walking stick. Did he ever wear a watch or posses one? I don’t think so. At least, I have never seen a picture of him wearing a watch, and I’m talking of his days in India.

Surely, the money that people are willing to pay for such grand watches can be used to feed the poor in India, people who do not even get a morsel of food a day. And there are millions of them, 62 years after Independence. You can see them in cities, in towns, and you only have to think of life in the villages to get a feeling of what the conditions there are.

And what is more astonishing is to see a picture in the Express of Tushar Gandhi, the Mahatma’s great grandson, launching the edition of the watch in Mumbai.

If Gandhi were alive today, what would he have done, I wonder, at the launch of such luxury in his name!

I am, therefore, not surprised at all to learn that Dijo Kappen, managing trustee, Centre for Consumer Education, has moved the Kerala High Court seeking a ban on the sale of both editions of the pen. It is totally against all that Mahatma Gandhi stood for, he says. And I couldn’t agree more.

It is a shame to see the ways of the world – commercial as they are – and the way Gandhi’s name is used to sell. I almost feel like puking.

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