80 years on, Ratnam Pen Works continues to ink a swadeshi story

Ratnam Pens best reflects ‘vocal for local’ with a ‘go global’ approach for the pens produced by the company in Andhra Pradesh’s Rajahmundry have a dedicated clientele in India and abroad.

Rajahmundry, located on the banks of river Godavari, is famous for many things including its tourist attraction, history, economy and cultural heritage. Known as the Cultural Capital of Andhra Pradesh, Rajahmundry is a prosperous city. Dazzled by this cultural, economic and historical prosperity, it is easy for one to miss the narrow lanes of Kotagummam. It is easier still to miss the nondescript over-eight-decades old Ratnam Pen Works that dots the lanes of Kotagummam.

Since 1932, the hand-crafted pen manufacturing unit, Ratnam Pen Works, has been churning out fountain ink pens and ball pens that compete with the best in the business. The standards of what is manufactured here have a stamp of approval from Mahatma Gandhi himself. The approval, however, did not come easy.

Kosuri Venkat Ratnam, a highly skilled jewellery maker specialising in dyes and engraving, happened to meet Gandhi in Wardha in 1921. Ratnam presented a metal engraving to Gandhi. Impressed with Ratnam’s art, Gandhi advised him to make “inexpensive utility items for the common man instead — say anything from a pin to pen”.

The idea struck a chord with Ratnam who had gained some knowledge of pens having repaired British pens that belonged to Rajahmundry sub judge M Krishnamacharya. In his endeavour, Ratnam sought help from Andhra Scientific Company in Bandar, which provided him inputs on what all was needed to make pens.

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