Unforgotten Brands: Hindustan Pencils – Apsara & Nataraj

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Hindustan Pencils continues to meet the diverse needs of consumers worldwide, reinforcing its position as a leader

Before India’s Independence, the domestic pencil manufacturing industry struggled to compete with imports. In the years before World War II, around 6.5 lakhs worth of pencils were imported from the UK, Germany, and Japan. However, during the war, imports fluctuated and eventually dropped to 2.3 lakhs by 1944-45, providing a boost to the indigenous market. This led to the emergence of several pencil manufacturers in cities like Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras (now Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai).

Government’s Intervention

Post-war, the market was once again inundated with imported pencils, prompting local manufacturers to seek protection and assistance from the Indian government. As a result, imports decreased, allowing the domestic industry to gradually thrive. However, public complaints arose about the quality and price of locally made pencils compared to imported ones.

Founding of Hindustan Pencils Ltd.

In 1958, three friends—B. J. Sanghvi (Babubhai), Ramnath Mehra, and Mansookani—founded Hindustan Pencils Ltd. Driven by a passion for pencils, they traveled to Germany to learn the art of pencil making. Upon their return to India, they applied their knowledge to create the iconic Nataraj Pencil. Babubhai Sanghvi eventually took over the company, leading it to great success.

Growth and Market Dominance

Today, Hindustan Pencils Pvt. Ltd. controls over 70% of the Indian pencil market. The company’s flagship brands, Nataraj and Apsara, have gained widespread popularity and are sold in more than 50 countries. Nataraj was introduced in 1958, followed by Apsara in 1970, initially designed as a drawing pencil.

Brand Strategies

Hindustan Pencils employs a dual brand strategy. Nataraj represents long-lasting quality at an affordable price, while Apsara offers higher-priced options, including professional and drawing pencils. This strategy caters to diverse consumer needs and effectively positions the brands against competitors. Nataraj is seen as a symbol of resilience and affordability, while Apsara represents premium quality.

Production Scale

Hindustan Pencils is India’s largest pencil manufacturer, producing over 8.5 million pencils daily. The company also manufactures 1.7 million sharpeners, 2.7 million erasers, 0.3 million scales, and 1 million pens each day. Among its renowned products is the Nataraj 621 HB wood-cased red and black striped pencil, known for its quality and innovation.

Product Range

Nataraj and Apsara now offer a wide array of writing instruments, including erasers, sharpeners, scales, wax crayons, oil pastels, mathematical instruments, and watercolours, catering to global consumers’ diverse needs.

Trivia – The Pencil Village

In the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, Okhu village, known as the “Pencil Village,” plays a crucial role in pencil production. This village, home to around 250 households, hosts three factories that produce wooden slates essential for making pencils. Hindustan Pencils relies on these factories for a significant portion of its raw materials, fostering a symbiotic relationship that supports the production of these beloved writing instruments.


From its humble beginnings in a challenging market to becoming a dominant force in the pencil industry, Hindustan Pencils Ltd. has built a legacy of quality and innovation. Through strategic branding and large-scale production, the company continues to meet the diverse needs of consumers worldwide, reinforcing its position as a leader in the industry.




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