I am sharing here some of the latest News Clippings related with philately from various newspapers and publications .
A doyen of Philately
by G. Ram Mohan
Madan Mohan Das
It is not often that we have had among the citizens of Chennai someone who was nationally acclaimed as an authority in his chosen field of interest and who had often served as the ‘National Commissioner for India’ (something like the captain of an Indian team) at international competitions held in his field in capital cities abroad. One such rare person was Madan Mohan Das, the doyen of philately in Chennai. In his passing away last month at the age of 90, philatelists in Chennai have lost their leader, who had been a source of inspiration and guidance to them for the past 50 years.
Image of 1854 Lithograph which Madan Bhai was an expert on.
Philately (or ‘stamp collection’ in layman’s terminology) has been often described as the ‘king of hobbies and the hobby of kings’. Madan Mohan Das, or ‘Madan Bhai’ as he was affectionately called by his admirers, was the uncrowned king of philately in Chennai. He was from a Gujarati business family, originally from Surat, that had settled in Tamil Nadu over three centuries ago. The family was initially based in Srirangam and was known for the gifts and endowments made by the family members to the Ranganathaswami temple there. Later, they shifted to Madras and settled in Sowcarpet. Madan Bhai’s father was a prosperous shipping agent. As a boy he often went to the harbour with his father. There, in the dust bins in the offices and outside, he would see used postal envelopes from all over the world, with colourful stamps affixed on them. He started collecting them, and soon it became an all-absorbing hobby. Then, quite by accident, he came across a Varadaraja Chettiar, an enthusiastic philatelist from Nellikkuppam, who had been tutored in the intricacies of philately by an Englishman then employed in the Parry’s Confectionary factory in Nellikkuppam. Chettiar would visit young Madan whenever he was in Madras and would often pay for and take the stamps collected by his young friend.
Madan Bhai graduated from St. Joseph’s College, Trichy, and started his career in banking with the Indian Bank in Chennai in 1948. His job took him to Bombay in 1950 which was then, as now, the capital of philately in India. He made friends with the well-known philatelists of that era in Bombay, like J.N. Cooper, R.F. Shroff, R. Wadia and Dhirubhai Mehta. He learnt from them all the subtleties and refinements of ‘philately’ (as different from mere ‘stamp collecting’). He soon developed special thematic collections of his own.
He first developed an interest in collectiing stamps known as ‘Indian Classics’ – a term used to describe early issues of stamps and rare stamps over 150 years old. It was, obviously, very difficult to come across material for such a collection. But Madan Bhai scoured the market with such vigour and enthusiasm that he soon had a sizeable collection of Classics.
Next, he turned his attention to an even more difficult area of collection, known as ‘Indian Postal History’. This is a collection of items from the pre-stamp era. They are exotic items like handstruck stamps embossed onsealing wax, wax wafers, handstruck markings applied directly on letters, embossments made on paper and so on. The East India Company, during the latter part of 18th Century and the first half of 19th Century, used such items to serve the same purpose as printed postage stamps, before actual postage stamps came into use in 1854. Here again Madan Bhai succeeded in collecting many of the rarest of rare specimens.
Madan Bhai then took up a deep study of the lithography of early Indian stamps. Lithography is the process of printing stamps using smooth-surfaced metal plates known as dies. In the early days of printing of stamps the dies would be changed as they wore out, and there would be minute variations in stamps from one die to another. Madan Bhai’s expertise in the field was such that he could detect the die of any stamp by studying the minutest details that would not be perceptible to an untrained eye. He collected specimens of various die casts reflecting different variations.
Over the decades, Madan Bhai won many gold medals for his collections of classics, postal history and lithography, at various philatelic competitions held at the State level as well as at the National level. He became the best known name among the philatelists of Chennai.
In 1956 he, along with his younger brother Balakrishna Das, gathered together a group of enthusiastic philatelists of Chennai and formed the South India Philatelists’ Association (SIPA). His old friend Varadaraja Chettiar joined him in the founding of SIPA. The first meeting of the six founding members was held in a church in Broadway on December 30, 1956 with, literally, the blessings of the pastor of the church.
In 1980, SIPA started publishing a bi-monthly newsletter on philately called the SIPA Bulletin. Madan Bhai headed SIPA and was editor of the Bulletin for many decades. SIPA is an active body today with nearly 650 members from all over India. It continues to actively serve the interests of philatelists. The members meet regularly on the second Sunday of every month at the exhibition hall of Anna Salai Post Office. The SIPA Bulletin is now published as a quarterly.
Madan Bhai served on the Philatelic Committee of the Government of India for some years. He also served on a number of occasions as a member of the jury charged with judging the entries at national level philatelic exhibitions. He was selected twice as the philatelic National Commissioner for India in which capacity he represented India and presented the Indian entries at two international philatelic exhibitions – one held in Bangkok in 1993, and the other held in Seoul in 2004.
Philatelists of Chennai owe a deep sense of gratitude to Madan Bhai for two other great services he rendered them. The first was that he was instrumental in getting a special counter established at the Anna Salai Post Office for philatelic items. The counter is housed in the old Electric Theatre hall and has facilities for philatelists to sit and browse through the materials available for sale before making their purchases. The second was that he was the force behind the allotment of a hall at the same Post Office for the display of collections of local philatelists. He could achieve both these objectives thanks to the active cooperation and assistance of many dynamic Chief Postmasters-General.
(Postal department has admitted that the commemorative stamp on SachinTendulkarissued on November 14, 2013, was rushed through.)
Stamp on Sachin Tendulkar rushed through, RTI reveals
CHENNAI: Was the commemorative stamp on Sachin Tendulkar issued on November 14, 2013, rushed through after bypassing postal rules? Yes, says the postal department in a reply to an RTI filed by activist Subhash Agarwal on December 24, 2013. The cricketing icon played his last test against West Indies in Mumbai between November 14 and 18.
The stamp was issued within 20 days of the request being sent by Union minister Sharad Pawar. Under Rule 13 of the Rules for issue of Commemorative Postage Stamps, it takes much more than 20 days to design and approve a stamp to be released. Also commemorative stamps are issued 10 years after the death of a leader or celebrity and in exceptional cases, it is released to honour head of nations, said Rashi Sharma, director (Philately) & First Appellate Authority department of posts in the reply.
"The desired date of release of this proposed stamp is November 14, 2013 which is merely 20 days away and pre-production formalities of a stamp require a longer time for printing of agood quality stamp and its distribution nationwide on the date of release," said Sharma.
"It would be relevant to mention here that as per the rule 13 of 'Rules for issue of Commemorative Postage Stamps,' no stamp will be issued on a living personality. The personalities on whom commemorative postage stamp may be issued should be of national or international importance. The occasion to be commemorated must be the birth centenary or 10th, 25th, and I00th death anniversary. Stamps can be issued no sooner than 10 years after an individual's death," the director said in the reply.
The philately division assigned Kamleshwar Singh, an empanelled artist of the department of posts to design the stamp. Singh has to his credit various stamps, including those issued on the occasion of 100 Years of Indian Cinema and London Olympics 2012. Two set of stamps were issued on November 14, the first with Sachin's picture during the first test he played in Pakistan in 1989 and the second from his last test in Mumbai.
The stamps issued to honour Sachin are of a high denomination of Rs 20 and they are not available across the country though many fans of the cricketer may want to own them. "To ensure availability of attractive multi-coloured postage stamps for public through all the post offices, stamps of definitive series should not be printed in denominations in which commemorative stamps are usually printed. Currently even in Delhi, such colourful commemorative stamps are available only at head post office at Sansad Marg," Agarwal told TOI.
Sachin Tendulkar stamps during farewell series breached postal rules: RTI
In a reply to an RTI, the postal department has said that postal rules were breached while issuing commemorative postage stamps in Sachin Tendulkar's honour during his farewell series in November 2013.
During Sachin Tendulkar's farewell series against the West Indies in November 2013, the Mumbai Cricket Association paid numerous tributes to the master blaster, one of which was to issue a commemorative postage stamp in legend's honour. Three months after the event, an RTI has exposed that the postal department broke its rules to produce the stamp in a hurry.
In an RTI filed by activist Subhash Aggarwal, it has been revealed that the commemorative stamp on Tendulkar, that was issued on November 14, 2013 was rushed through bypassing the postal rules. Aggarwal filed the RTI on December 24, 2013. According to rules, it takes more than 20 days to issuecommemorative stamps and these kind of stamps are issued only 10 years after the death of the personality or in honour of head of nations, in exceptions. According to a report in the Times of India, both these rules were breached when Union minister and MCA president Sharad Pawar got the stamps issued within 20 days of the request sent by him.
"The desired date of release of this proposed stamp was November 14, 2013 which was merely 20 days away and pre-production formalities of a stamp require a longer time for printing of a good quality stamp and its distribution nationwide on the date of release," said Rashi Sharma, director (Philately) & First Appellate Authority department, in reply to the RTI.
"It would be relevant to mention here that as per the rule 13 of 'Rules for issue of Commemorative Postage Stamps,' no stamp will be issued on a living personality. The personalities on whom commemorative postage stamp may be issued should be of national or international importance. The occasion to be commemorated must be the birth centenary or 10th, 25th, and I00th death anniversary. Stamps can be issued no sooner than 10 years after an individual's death," she added.
Tendulkar had made his Test debut in 1989 against Pakistan in a Test that went on from November 15-20 and co-incidentally played his final Test -- his 200th-- against the West Indies during the same period between November 14-16. At the start of his 200th Test, the MCA got two stamps issued on November 14, one each with a picture of Tendulkar from the first and final Test of his career.
Bal Thackeray stamp not cleared; Jyoti Basu's in July
PTI Feb 5, 2014, 10.10PM IST
(Bal Thackeray stamp not…)
NEW DELHI: A government panel has so far not approved the issuing of commemorative stamp on Shiv Sena patriarch Balasaheb Thackeray, Parliament was informed today.
The statement placed in the Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Communications and IT Killi Kruparani showed that 16 names out of 86 in all were "not approved" or were "placed before sub-committee meeting held on June 7, 2013 but could not be approved".
The names listed in Kruparani's reply included that of Thackeray, who died on November 17, 2012.The commemorative stamps are approved by Philatelic Advisory Committee which meets once a year. The sub-committee has been formed to consider the proposals in case the committee is not able to meet.
The status report showed that the commemorative stamp of ghazal singer Jagjit Singh is likely to be released on February 8 and a stamp of Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Jyoti Basu is due for release on July 8 this year.
Several other names such as Amrita Shergill, Harkishan Singh Surjeet, Sarat Chandra Sinha and Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja are being considered.The list from Maharashtra had 18 proposals, highest from a state, out of which seven were approved including that of Cricket star Sachin Tendulkar which was released on the eve of his last test match.
The other names that have not been approved by the sub-committee of Philatelic Advisory Committee included Mandali Venkata Krishna Rao of Andhra Pradesh, TP Kelu Nambiar and Stephen Padua from Kerala, Thakur Niranjan Singh, Col Ajay Narain Mushran from Madhya Pradesh.