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Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Leader who has a special place in my heart and the people of India

"I have no copyright in my portraits, but I am unable to give the consent you required"
Mahatma Ghadhi, May 1931

Those are the response that Mahatma Gandi gave to a manufacturer in May 1931, who wanted to use his portrait in a roofing titles.

On October 2 2009, Mont Blanc unveiled a limited edition pens in Mumbai to mark Mahatma Gandhi's birthday anniversary. The pens is available in two editions. The Mahatma Gandhi 241 is an 18K gold pen that depict Gandhi setting off on the salf march on July 1930 and is price at USD24,000.

This gold pen is limited to 241 pieces worldwide. The number '241' refers to the number of miles that Gandhi walked during the "salt march", a protect against salt taxes levied by the British.

The pens are decorated with Gandhi signature and a soffron - coloured opal. The pen also come with a 26 feet gold threat which can be wound around the pen and is meant to recall the spindle that Gandhi used to wave simple cotton cloths.

The second edition is the sterling silver edition that comes in rollerball and fountain pen. This edition is price at USD3,000.

Mont Blanc donated some money to Indian causes. A cheque of 100,000 euro was given to Tushar Gandhi, a foundation that work to improve child nutrition and education. On top of the initial donation, the foundation will also get a token for each pen sold, approximately USD200 - 1,000.

Not everyone agreed or like this unexpected gesture from a luxurt brand based on the high profile court case in India.

We would have to agree to the objection based on the cases.

Gandhi never really lead a lunxury life or believed in riches. The luxury pens ran into a controversy for their pricing, which was counter to Gandhi's philosophy rooted in simplicity.

A petition was filed by Dijo Kappen, the managing trustee of the Center for Consumer Education at Pala in Kottayam, Kerala. The PIL requested the court to prohitbit marketing and sale of both editions of Mahatma Gandhi Limited Edition, which uses name and pictorial representation of the Father of the Nation.

The petition specificially draw attention to Section 3 of the Emblems and names (Prevention of Improrer Use) Act, 1950, under which "no person shall, except in cases and under such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government, use, or continue to use, for the purpose of any trade, business or calling or profession, or in the title of any patent, or in any trademark or design, any name or emblem specificed in the Schedule or any colourable imitation thereof without the previous premission of the Central government."
Further to the above, Entry 9A of the Schedule to the Act lists "the name or pictorial representation of Mahatma Gandhi" as an item that categorically cannot be used for the purpose of any trade, business or profession under provision of the Act.

The petition argues that "Mahatma Gandhi" is considered as the epitone of simplicty", and "making him a symbol of a US$24,000 and US$3,000 pen are nothing but an attempt to degrade everything that Gandhi symbolised, and to mock a nation of middle class and individuals below poverty line who look up to him and who he tried to liberals."

Strangely many people are objecting to the idea. Guess who endorsed the idea?
The great grandson of Gandhi Tushar Gandhi endorsed the idea. He was reported to be at the launched of the pen saying "It's a pen which Gandhi always associated with. It was his greatest tool. Also the donation is for an Indian Trust, which is for the good of the Society.

Tushar Gandhi seems to be the only man standing in the Gandhi family for the endorsement of the brand. The Mahatma Gandhi governer grandson, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, in an overnight reponsed wrote a moving piece of his late grandfather's relationship with the pen and dhe act of writing.

Here he recalls the story of the title manufacturer quoted at the top of the blog, which suggest that Gandhi himself would have objected to the use of his portrait in this manner, were he alive today.


The court case has not closed. We will update our reader on the outcome of the petition, when the case is closed.

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