It was a stamp exhibition with a difference, giving a ringside view of a world plagued by cancer, AIDS and the perils of smoking, and in dire need of blood. The show at Gaganendra Pradarshasala earlier this month was based on photocopies of the philatelic collection of Utpal Sanyal. A cancer research scientist, Sanyal used 1,150 exhibits in the presentation.The symbol of cancer, the crab, was introduced at the start. “This Hungarian stamp portrays Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who used the word karkinos or crab in Greek to describe the tumour. But the disease can be traced even further back. Breast and bone cancer symptoms were found in Egyptian mummies,” he said, pointing to relevant stamps.
Stamps can be part of the fight against a killer disease. The United States Postal Service has raised over $71 million for breast cancer research from a 55 cent fund-raiser stamp that was launched in 1998 and is still on sale.There were stamps that displayed famous faces who died of the disease — Ramakrishna Paramhansa to Nargis Dutt, Saratchandra Chattopadhyay . Malcolm Marshall . Napoleon, Pablo Neruda, and Sri Ramana Maharshi. AIDS also got an elaborate display with stamps, postcards and matchboxes carrying messages on how the syndrome spreads. Luc Montagnier, who discovered HIV, finds pride of place in a Mali stamp. The third section was on blood donation. “A stamp played a big role in the blood donation movement in France. After one was issued on the subject in 1959, the number of donors trebled and as many as 117 more blood transfusion centres had to be founded,” Sanyal said.(Source-The Telegraph Kolkata 17 July 2011)