Glimpses of Modern Indian Philately

This blog is devoted to Modern Indian Postal History and Modern Philately of India providing less known information on various aspects of Indian Postal Services.



Dear Philatelists,
I take this opportunity to share with you my editorial published in 'Vadophil' Issue no. 133 (Quarterly News Bulletin) of Baroda Philatelic Society of Vadodara, through my blog to have an attention of philatelic fraternity about the attitude of Department of Posts towards philatelists. Readers are requested to send their comments / feedback and also share their experiences.

Philately under the cloud.

In the editorial of Vadophil (Issue no. 131-132, Jul.-Oct. 2012), it was stated that “Organised Philately is often linked to a three legged stool; the three legs are philatelists, trade and postal administration”.

Geometrically, three legged stool is very stable even if three legs are of un-equal lengths. In terms of philately, legs could be interpreted as contribution to the promotion of philately. 

We need to review the third leg of stool i.e. Postal Administration, which is most important but unfortunately having a cracked leg. A while ago Department of Posts released a glossy and colourful philatelic magazine “Phila Post” with a great funfare in Delhi. Many philatelists from Gujarat and elsewhere from India and, of course, PCI members attended the meeting. Loud announcements were made on the future course of action to promote philately in India and regular release of the magazine through philatelic bureaux all over India. After couple of issues magazine had gone in hibernation.

During GUJPEX-2011, state level philatelic exhibition held in Vadodara, a plenty of unpleasant matters came to light. During the Valedictory function, except for the Sr. Jury member, none of other jury names were acknowledged. Senior Philatelists who conducted a workshop on philately, quiz programs etc. were ignored. Normal courtesy demands that they should have been honored with mementoes for their contributions. Even they were not invited to seat in the front row as gesture of courtesy. 

And the height of adamant attitude of Department of Post was to ignore services of members of Baroda Philatelic Society who supported, co-operated and helped the Department of Post towards organising the ‘GUJPEX -2011” from the day one of announcement of event and till the last day of exhibition. None were acknowledged personally or even during vote of thanks at the valedictory function. Volunteers of Baroda Philatelic Society stood by the department as if the event is organised by Baroda Philatelic Society, who even helped in erection of frames, mounting and dismounting of exhibits even after such step motherly approach by the Dept. of Posts at the end of exhibition. For what ? For the sake of love for Philately ? 

Recently Vadodara East Division organised District Level Philatelic Exhibition “VADOPEX 2013” at Vadodara from 10th to 12th January 2013. During the planning of this exhibition Baroda Philatelic Society was approached by the Chairman of Exhibition in the first week of November 2012. At that time Baroda Philatelic Society had requested the officer to convey the message about the grievances and unhappiness of members of the society who had unpleasant experience during the last GUJPEX-2011 to the concerned authority. It was never conveyed to higher authorities and the society members were kept in dark about this. It reduced the enthusiasm among the members of Baroda Philatelic Society towards Vadopex 2013. Organisers of Vadopex 2013 remain silent till last week of December 2012 for reasons best known to them and in the end of December 2012, hardly 12-15 days before the inauguration of Exhibition, sent entry forms and one page announcement letter about Vadopex 2013 to couple of philatelists of Vadodara. Phone calls were made to philatelists to participate in the exhibition and personal approaches also made to collect entries for exhibition but members of Baroda Philatelic Society were not in mood of participating in the exhibition due to unpleasant and adamant attitude of the organisers. The Prospectus of Vadopex 2013 reached us separately by Post on second day of Exhibition!!! Even the PDA account holders were also not properly communicated about the event.

Surprisingly for the first time in history of philately, two types of prospectus were seen. One was showing text “The exhibition is organised by the East Division with the active support of Philatelic Association of Vadodara.......” and another with white ink obliterating this text !!! 

For us, 10th January 2013 will be known as Black Day in Philately. Vadopex 2013 held in the city of Baroda was inaugurated without presence of members of Baroda Philatelic Society. Even there was no advertisement about the event in local news papers or TV Channels and media personal did not attended the event. Fifteen frames were exhibited in Adult Class, 26 frames were exhibited in Youth/School class, 27 frames were exhibited in Invitee Class from non members of Baroda Philatelic Society and, some frames obtained from outside Baroda. 

Appointment of members of Jury for the exhibition is also a mystery and reason behind appointing them is best known to Department of Post. Jury members appointed for Vadopex 2013 have never judged any philatelic exhibition even as an apprentice jury. Family member of one of the jury was a participant in competition class and has been awarded a Silver medal ! Is this justified ? Is this as per India Post Regulations for Judging ? This is a serious matter and need a serious attention by higher authorities of Philately Division of India Post.

Though the event was of three days, three special covers were released on very first day. Why one each special cover was not released on each day of exhibition? Traditionally, on each day, one special cover is released during the exhibition to attract more visitors on each day. After the introduction of ‘My Stamps’ at INDIPEX 2011 International Exhibition it has become a tradition to provide my stamps facility at district level philatelic exhibitions which not only attracts philatelists and visitors but also generates good revenue for the Department of Posts, but at Vadopex 2013, no such facilities of ‘My Stamps’ were provided.

There was another surprise. Stamps issued to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda are still not available at many philatelic counters. But sheets were taken to the venue of the exhibition, in spite of the fact that very limited supply was received by Vadodara Philatelic Bureau. Thus depriving other philatelists of neighbouring towns. We are awaiting explanation from Dept. of Posts, Vadodara.

Don’t you feel that district level philatelic exhibitions are merely for the submission of Annual Reports to the higher authorities and audit purpose and just to waste the philately budget sanctioned by Philately Division? The district level philatelic exhibitions are absolutely necessary but they should be planned well in advance and senior philatelists and local philatelic organisations should be taken into confidence and involved right from the beginning. 

It appears that Department of Post has shrunk from the responsibility of organising philatelic events. During last one year there was no philatelic activity in Vadodara even on Philately Day which was celebrated everywhere with a great enthusiasm with the support of philatelists and philatelic organisations across the country.

Now you can understand the cracked up third leg of the stool. Patch up will not serve the purpose. It has to be replaced.

It is also important that we philatelists need to be united when such treatment is received. Our fellow philatelists should also support each other. Somewhere feeling of brotherhood is missing. (for personal benefits ???)

We are not writing this with a bias or prejudiced mind. We always have respect for authorities and we are always available to extend our whole hearted support for the cause of philately but it pinches us when some people for the sake of their personal ego and with a adamant attitude plays with sentiments of philatelists. We expect respect and acknowledgement of our services. Nothing more....

Fresh wind is required to disperse the cloud and bring the philately under a bright sunshine. When I say “fresh wind”, I mean change or more precisely, overhaul of the system. We need to look for a good carpenter so that the stool can stand on its three legs well balanced. 

The King’s hobby will only survive if we pray “God Save the King”. Having said that let us say “God save this hobby”.

Jai Philately.
- Prashant H. Pandya

Editorial Published in Vadophil, Issue No. 133 (Jan. 2013)