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Pen will 'evoke spirit of Gandhi' – for £14,000

Little is recorded about Mahatma Gandhi's choice of writing implement, but one thing is clear: when the great ascetic set down the ideas that would prompt a generation of Indians to a peaceful revolution, he probably did so with a pen that cost rather less than £14,000.

That price, nevertheless, is what the prestigious Hamburg-based penmaker Montblanc is going to charge for a gold and rhodium-plated fountain pen that will bear his name.

In some quarters, the memorial gesture has gone down well, but not everyone in India is happy with the way that the man who preached the values of an austere and simple life is being remembered.

Several so-called "Gandhians" have mocked the idea of the pen, launched this week in Mumbai ahead a national holiday today to mark Gandhi's birthday.

A gold wire entwined by hand around the middle of each pen, said Montblanc, is designed to "evoke the roughly-wound yarn on the spindle with which Gandhi spun every day for half an hour, regardless of where he was or whom he was talking to".

Just 241 of the pens have been made, to mark the number of miles Gandhi trudged on his famous salt march of 1930.

Perhaps to avoid criticism, the makers of the pen have donated a hefty sum to a charity that is headed by the icon's great grandson, Tushar Gandhi. The donation will help it to build a shelter for rescued child labourers. Earlier this year, Mr Gandhi led the opposition when personal items belonging to his ancestor were auctioned abroad.

In this case, while he said that he understood that Montblanc was a producer of luxury goods, he did not hesitate to point out the incongruities of the whole affair, and pondered how the nature of the memorial might have appeared to his great grandfather.

"He was not a rich man," Mr Gandhi told reporters. "He would not have used such an expensive pen."