Centenary Celebrations of the Indian postal service

Sending letters is a thing of the past now..its been so long since I penned a letter or bought stamps to send it.Though many times I have tried to start a stamp collection, its never progressed, so was gladly surprised when I came to know that my husband has a stamp & coin collection. True to his hobby, he does not believe in buying old stamps, he thinks it needs to be collected through exchanges or friends..buying ready made collection is no fun for him. There are vintage shops in places like Ooty which sells old stamps/ coins etc.

Recently while browsing, I came to know that Indian Postal service would be completing 100 years this year and then I digged a little further to find some facts on Indian postage.. India Post will release a set of four commemorative stamps to mark the centenary, coinciding with a re-enactment of Pequet’s Allahabad flight and the launch of the Indipex World Philatelic Exhibition, at Pragati Maidan in Delhi.

The 13-minute journey on  18 February 1911 by 23-year-old Frenchman Henri Pequet on a 50 horsepower Sommer biplane from Allahabad to Naini carrying around 6,500 letters was India’s first airmail flight and only the second in the world—a day earlier, American adventurer Fred Wiseman had taken off from Petaluma, California, and claimed first place.

 India Post is the largest postal system in the world and issues around 70-80 commemorative stamps a year as well as its regular (“definitive”) postage stamps—significantly more than the UK’s Royal Mail, which produces around 12-15. Since 1852, when the first postage stamp (known as the Scinde Dawk) was introduced in India, until the present day, India Post has faced the mammoth task of administering to the country’s 35 states and Union territories.

Though philately as a hobby was introduced by the British, it captured the Indian imagination with a tenacity that has outlasted the influence of its instigators and continues to be popular today. It remains the only hobby recognized as an Olympic sport. It used to be the hobby of kings because it was expensive, But that idea is not so prevalent anymore.

In theory, anyone in India can apply to have a stamp made, although in practice only those personalities who have national or international renown are approved. Each stamp takes about 18 months to produce, from concept approval to printing. The approval of a theme for a commemorative stamp (the kind most commonly collected by philatelists) is ultimately made by the incumbent minister for communications, but an advisory body exists to submit its recommendations on each proposal. The reasoning behind these choices can be political.

Unlike the UK or the US, where royal weddings or politicians are frequently the subject of commemorative stamps, India Post steers away from approving living figures.

In 2008, after the financial crisis, the GB30 Rarities Index—a collection of classic British stamps that Stanley Gibbons recommends for investment—beat the Sensex.

Though not as stable as gold prices, stamps & onions seems to be a better option than stocks and even land.

Cheers to people who have been able to continue to their beautiful stamp collection hobbies thru the din of urbane life...

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