Philately in India:Victim of Greed and Mismanagement

Special Article By Dinu

Philately (king of the hobbies and hobby of the kings) is undergoing from being a hobby to a tool of investment. It is sad but true that Philately is dying for Philatelist and reincarnated and accepted as a vehicle of investment.Once I read, that only politician’s asset has appreciated more than value of Gold in last 5 years. Worthy reporter might not have sampled the philatelist / philately dealers then!

Philately as a hobby is dying out due to apathy of authority and greed of dealer and big collectors.

1. The first hurdle – INDIA POST Without criticizing India post, which is the mother supplier of all Indian stamps, as they might have their own valid reasons and constraints for behaving the way they are doing, few points, which were noted with my limited knowledge, results in frustration are· Issues and miniatures vanish mysteriously from post offices. eg. from recent past, I mean since when I have started.

\"\"A. Save the glacier and polar region was not available in south India.
B. Dr. Triguna Sen and NCE – Not available in Delhi region. I, myself have visited the post office on 23 rd December (central bank of India?) and 31st December. On 31st December itself nothing was available. (In Ebay already price is approx 10 – 20 times higher.) Hearsay is Imperforation error found and hence hoarders are holding it and checking the whole pack in leisure to dig out the diamonds. Who knows it might soon be available via epost with proud announcement that due to Public demand epost is most graciously organized it.

C. Krishnadeva Raya – MS – Imperforation error and color missing error and have vanished. Even against PDAC* standing order I got half of the required quantity i.e. 2 against 4. But in ebay I saw 5 sealed packets from Hyderabad location was being auctioned with highest bid of Rs 17’500 (7 times higher than face value). Delhi Bureau as per their own verbal admission has received supply of only 6400 pcs where PDACs are approximately 6000. Nothing can be expected from Government in writing by mere asking – only option in RTI.

D. Corps of signals and Chitralekha, too, vanished temporarily. Now they are back in ample quantities.
*PDAC = Philately Deposit Account

Many options given in PDAC opening forms are not available, at least in Delhi – like year pack order, Block of 4 from corner, Children’s pack etc. etc.No stock list of old issues is available (compare it with Norway, Denmark, USA or even Faroe island post office). Epost is offering some in limited quantity from back year and I am informed by not so reliable sources that most of those were not available immediately after issue. Might be same fate will befall Dr. Triguna +NCE. In case old issues are found in some philately counter those are mostly in Treasury, which sometime opens only after 1300 making the pilgrimage of a philatelist whole day affair + imposed burden of buying full sheet, which can be ill afforded by many collector’s who have to earn their bread in some other profession. Some exceptions are there where pleasant surprise can be had. Very less dedicated, knowledgeable staff. In few places, Indian Capital not being an exception, those who are doing the job diligently lacks basic facility and enough space. Situation in South India, especially in Tamilnadu, out of sampled post offices, seems to be comparatively better.

Philatelic counter – mostly exist in name as displayed in website. In many ‘so called\"\" counters’ if someone tries to find out about the Philately counter he is confronted with mute surprise and indifference like what – are – you – searching – for – we – do – not – have – any – and – if – it –is – published – in – web- site – ask – them – and – not – us. Sampled few from District (with one exception found in West Bengal and one in Tamilnadu) headquarters offers dismal picture. Kochi Philately bureau seems to be best as from philashop anyone can buy offered one (though very meager in offering).

Even where staffs are aware about counter, normally it is not manned during the total duty hour (my experience without any proof) on the ground of staff shortage. Display board does not match with the stock available. Counter is mixed with normal counter creating hassles for collectors, who needs more time to buy. Do you want a proof and do you have manpower to do it? Without first publishing this letter (in case you decide to publish) send someone to Gol Dakkhana in our National Capital or Kashmere gate GPO to judge and compare it with Coimbatore HPO (the one near Railway station). I have not seen more helpful staff, which encourages Philately than the last one. However, please listen attentively to their lament. Post someone, not the same person, incognito till two weeks after an issue is released – we may learn something about fineness of creativity in transport and logistics in issues being bundled away.

Common small collectors have to stand in queue in the post office; but some of the favoured one will be allowed entry to inside and they are often allowed to scan the whole package before either picking the packet or some from it. What do they search there? “Errors” for the sake of our errors of going to buy those at exorbitant cost! Stamp issues are normally kept in the evening and getting an issue across the counter on the day of issue (in case the stamp is being released in the city) is not possible. FDC can be franked with FD cancellation up to six months but many FDC cannot be posted on the day of issue – Is not there some rule of exhibition about FDC with franking (round date stamp) of the day of issue having some uniqueness and more exhibit value?

\"\"India post is having a website for the namesake. They found it too difficult to publish details like perforation gauge, size of the stamp (print / overall area), numbers printed, if miniature exists or not – if yes, how many etc. etc. Beside that even with published issue program there are many unexplainable sudden changes – like “The united Theological College”. Have you ever tried writing an email to directorphilately@indiapost.gov.in? Try it and have some fun. Surprisingly our vast India post also relies on gmail even if they have official server – e.g. mgpo400001@gmail.com

In epost up to 5 stamps (when the links are working, which is rare) can be ordered. There some old issues can be found – why? Returned by the first purchaser?! However, counter argument will be we are developing nation and we are trying very hard to improve. I forgot that we are developing. – oh yes! Even after 63 years of Independence we are developing.Getting everything (like FDC, MS or required amount of stamp) cannot be done in one single go to the counter. Common refrain is “received supply is not enough”. But the same stamp can be had from dealers in ample quantity albeit in higher price- Oh! Oh ! I keep on forgetting that Printing press supply direct to the supplier for reasons best known to them.

Whereas other nation’s post like Faroe Island, USPS, Norway, Denmark and even Pitcairn Island follows some different rules and paying government fixed premium one can have older stamps too. Here it is not possible – sure what is the need to make India post richer? – the money will finally be swindled away in one scam or another. Rather let it go direct to beneficiary from few lucky, what’s – the – word, A word starts with Ho…

Why do I cry? – It is incredible India shining, where everything is corrupt which even our prime minister (though he is stated to be honest gentleman, last few of a fast vanishing breed (?), and I personally believe in his honesty) admits it. Show me a department where palm greasing is not required and I shall give you a three rupees note.Those, like me, who with great hope have visited INDIPEX 2011 to collect some old issues at face value must have seen the nerve wrecking spectacle of mismanagement in manning the counter, meager issues on offer in most haphazard fashion and last but not least the nauseating behavior displayed by collector / philatelists, our fellow brethren – WHOM to blame; that is the system. The less said about this exhibition is the better. E.g. Mahatma Gandhi Khadi MS was sold without presentation pack for 2 –3 hours and then abruptly stopped. God bless us as the packet is now available in some counters.

(Here I believe for the sake of benefit of small collectors no issue should be sold for first three moths across counters in > 2 sheets per collectors against positive ID proof and then dealers should be entertained for bulk orders– sure, whatever said and done, we need them too in this philately food pyramid. Only fear is like the authorized agents of Indian railway when stopped from booking ticket between 0800 – 0900 after public out cry by passed the system by creating multiple private user id – we are nation of indigenous people)

 The second hurdle – other source

\"\"Other source means secondary market i.e. some old collectors or dealers. Though only dealers are blamed but the old collectors themselves are not totally fault free. Might be myself, who is crying hoarse at the moment, or my son too will change in this direction in near future.I can well understand and agree to the views of old collectors / Dealers on charging extra when someone wants to buy from them the old issues. Surely when someone buys stamps as an investment, his/her demand for appreciation is within reason and I agree with it. People save in Bank and other financial institution too for the same purpose. But the money charged – is it logical? Considering all margins for error and being most liberal in calculation a well-appreciated investment grows double almost every five year. Please look at the cost of earlier issued stamps of any theme listed in catalogue or ask collectors. I, personally, am yet to meet a single collector / dealer who has shown certain leniency to encourage a new collector. Surely no one here is talking about errors and rarities – higher cost for those is quite reasonable. The other day I was reading in a national daily that in last five years only the Indian Politicians wealth has appreciated more than gold; might be the reporter(s) has (ve) not included the stamp dealers in survey.

One must attend some meetings held in post offices on 2nd Saturday or Sunday to understand it better. Perhaps hope of appreciation has surpassed the realm of reality due to the realization that there is none in the family to whom the precious collection can be bequeathed as heirloom.

On issue date one can have lot of fun in the way this people gathers in post offices and become busy in showing their clout and ‘Who calls the shot here ability”.

Everyone is interested in pushing across the catalogue first with an offer to buy it (funny thing is everyone is having one extra) and then show that he is offering stamps cheaper (2 –5 Rs than listing) than listed in it – what a magnificent generosity!Let us not pretend that this beautiful hobby mostly is now nothing other than a moneymaking ploy, without paying income tax, for the most of us.

Summary:
As rightly said by one friend in some blog– “it is hobby of the king and king of the …”and therefore only king must pursue it. Probably he too forgot that Privy Purse and monarchy have become obsolete in most part of the world . Therefore, if the trend continues, “Philately” will either evolve to a new form or will become obsolete.

One gentleman long ago has said ” Survival of fittest” – May I be allowed to modify it to ” survival of the ‘richest’/ or the ‘best connected to correct person of India Post’ (in philately)”To keep the hobby alive infusion of new collectors is necessary, who mostly will be young. How many of them can afford to invest such huge sum of money to go for a good complete collection for competing in world exhibition?

I repeat without hurting anyone’s belief, sentiment and view, I can only comment that future scenario of this hobby is quite critical as nowadays youths are having many other hobbies to indulge unlike in past. I have decided to make my son’s collection from present onwards; He can collect the old issues/ and unavailable issue when he becomes a millionaire. In case he loses interest he can do whatever he wants.“God bless us (the small collector) and show us way away from this addictive hobby to the path of newer” should be the national anthem for this unfortunate group .

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18 Responses to Philately in India:Victim of Greed and Mismanagement

  1. Mahesh Parekh, Chennai says:

    Let this be beginning for the new change. Let us raise our small collective voice and hope some one in the India Post ‘Listen’.

  2. Kamran Ahmad says:

    Philately is becoming a money making profession these days.Recent material though issues in bulk quantities but soon becomes rare.Further you can see they sells at very higher prices on auction sites sometimes even 10 times higher than face value.In case of special covers and booklets situation is worse.Special covers gets 10 time costlier than face value with in days.What a business is this?
    No doubt philately is increasing but the meaning has changed.
    India post also making money with this like Khadi stamp pack which they sell at 250 Rs face value. In the name of a cloth stamp it is a shame, we can not compare our cloth stamp with other countries who previously issue cloth stamps(Austria,Switzerland,Germany,Thailand etc.etc.)
    When i send Khadi stamp to my philatelic friend circle abroad they first amused told me where is cloth?
    Only way is PD account to have all items but in case of special covers what one can do if he does not have account in that region or bureau?
    Philatelic counters staff never treat good with philatelists.I have very bitter experiences whenever went to small city counters, but we have to purchase from them so no one want to argue for their rudeness.
    We need to have a strong philatelic circle in our country to help each others. India post can not change but we can help each others to fulfill genuine requirements.
    Thank you Mr. Dinu for sharing your experience,analysis and thought.

    • Dinu says:

      Dear Mr. Ahmad,
      You are welcome. I am glad to have three posts / comments in return as I have expected none.

      Special thanks to Mr. Vajpeyi for publishing this article.

      My sincere thank to Mr. Parekh and Mr. Kotadia.

      One additional request I shall like to make here to one friend , who have won the lucky lottery of KD Raya error as well as pointed out errors in RP Bhawan Issue, in case he is truly a philatelist by heart and supports the cause of Philately, that he should not point out any mistakes for first six months after an issue is brought out. Coincidence cannot happen again and again.
      I have a firm belief that few scrupulous people follows his post very seriously and issue starts going out fast once his pointers are public.

      He might not be aware of the fact and does this with every good intention in heart – but with folded hand I shall request him and editors and others not to publish till first six month. Sure when they share their knowledge later it will benefit us.

      Hope they will agree.

      George Bernard Saw very correctly said – “A man never tells you anything until you contradict him.” So, here I am giving the counterpoint for their thoughts.

      Regards

  3. SURENDRA KOTADIA says:

    I agree with coment made by the reader and I support his view on todays trand followed by Old philatelist and Invester come Dealer

    Surendra Kotadia

  4. Srihari says:

    Thanks for the article. I am a new beginner for philately…. and it gives me a complete picture of where the philately is heading to……

    I saw comments like the people in philately bureau are not friendly and treating us bad…. this is a surprise for me….
    I am from coimbatore. The madam from coimbatore HPO, Philately bureau is very friendly and always willing to share the information…….
    I once visited to get some stamps for my north indian friend…. during the conversation, she learnt that i am new to this and she took 45min to 1 hour to explain what is philately and why i should do it…….
    Based on that now i am a philatelist….. Whenever i go there she offers a seat first and shows all the stamps and miniature available at that point of time and ready to explain……
    So please do not generalise that all people are bad, there are good people also.
    The main article by Mr. Dinu is very informative and gives a bit scarry
    picture on today’s reality to a beginner like me… Hope some one from India Post reads it and rectifies it…….
    Love India

    Regards
    Hari

  5. Dinu says:

    Dear Mr. Hari,

    “We shall overcome,
    we shall overcome,
    We shall overcome someday
    Oh deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome someday.”

    My friend, I draw your attention to this – “Without first publishing this letter (in case you decide to publish) send someone to Gol Dakkhana in our National Capital or Kashmere gate GPO to judge and compare it with Coimbatore HPO (the one near Railway station). I have not seen more helpful staff, which encourages Philately than the last one. However, please listen attentively to their lament.”

    Do not you think they need a little bigger space?

    Best of luck to you.
    Dinu

  6. RADHA KRISHNA MISHRA says:

    Mr Dinu,
    thanks for your write up over king of hobby,this all reflects my idea hounding in my mind since 2004 when i have seen a number errors under serpent miniature sheet released a few days back.You can locate them who are getting miniature sheet in 200 sheald packets from their P.D. F Account.a RIGHT TO INFORMATION CAN REVEAL THEIR NAMES WHY THE INDIA POST ALLOWS ,THE VENDERS BE SUPPLIED SEPARATELY AFTER SCRUTINY OF STAMPS.THIS WHOLE THINGS GENERATED DUE TO THE FAILING OF CHECKING SYSTEM AT NUMBER SUPPLY LEVEL
    .
    The other part of your worry needs special attentions otherwise development of philately will not be possible.
    YOUR MASSAGE NEEDS TO BE REPEATED IN A PRECISE AND FORCE FULL WAY, MANY THANKS FOR DEVELOPMENT OF PHILATELY

  7. RADHA KRISHNA MISHRA says:

    T he India Post needs a fool proof check of system at printing,perforation,cutting and other important levels. Delivery system be fool proof like currency note system.
    THIS FREQUENT ERRORS BE POINTED OUT AT APEX LEVEL OF INDIA POST(MORE SIGHTED AFTER 1994 WATER BIRDS,BEGUM AKHTAR KAND) RESPONSIBLY BE FIXED UP

  8. AWATE VINAYAK says:

    This is regular practice of P & T not to solve the problems of philatelist.
    How it happens that Dealer gets all the material very easily. About Shukla/Begum Akhtar/Water birds/Tarangini/Krishnadeo Rai several other issues Even in India 2011 International Exhibition KHADI miniature sheets saperately sold for half an hour. The demand supply mismanagement/ arrangement all visitors of INDIPEX 2011 knows No answer till now collectors have not received MY STAMP BOOKED IN INDIPEX2011 Can any body guide where to complaint ?

    • Dinu says:

      Dear Vinayakji,

      Have you ever noticed that
      – MS costing Rs 5.00 vanishes from the market first.
      – Normally for this MS quantity printed is never mentioned.
      – maximum errors or varieties (Rath yarta, KD Raya) are reported from these MS.
      – Setenant issue is becoming lower and lower and done without annoucement; setenant also vanishes very first from the market as being the only or second setenant of the year.
      All coincidences????!!!!
      Guru Granth sahib – information did not reach in time to many places and ….many were sold. Information did not reach in the era of epost and email?? Plausible but believable?!!
      Does it not indicate some sort of mutual understanding between force controlling the situation and external well connected market force….At least noone need to be possesed or spiritually guided to understand ….
      Sufferer? – ” common philatelist”

  9. Galaxy says:

    In US, all local post offices are required to carry commemorative stamps and are required to reorder based on demand. So I get them very easily. Also when you logon to USPS website you get everything you need with just a $1 shipping. So there is no dealer headache here. I love US!

  10. SUNIL KUMAR GARG says:

    That explains how USPS must have managed to sell 120 Million plus
    Elvis Presley stamps. Mind, this quantity roughly equals 2/3 year
    total of all the commemorative stamps printed & issued by India Post.

  11. vinayak awate says:

    This is happening for several years but it was with affordable margins.
    Now P & T also minting money through minting stamps after every week.IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A NORMAL INDIAN PHILATELIST TO buy the QUANTITY OF ISSUES. And PERSONALITY & POLITICALLY MOTIVATED. It is also observed by several philatelists that there is a link between philatelic dealers. What was the Quantity ACTUALLY PRINTED /MINTED of GANDHI KHADI. I expect P & T SHOULD DECLARE.
    .

  12. Dinu says:

    I have come across a new breed of one Philatelist who are like the 419 scammer of “You have won millions of dollars in xxxx lottery type”

    Being suspicious of the behaviour of so called Gentleman (as I am a scam baiter too – google scam baiter in case you do not know the meaning) I started to keep electronic record of our communication.

    Result is interesting, which I got to know yesterday and today and I am making a write up (will take at least 2 months) – my view is this type of character should be exposed in Public such that they become infficient in carrying out the trade else where.

    About these gentleman , I have given a indirect prewarning in one of my comment to one blog in this website (sorry , I thought it will be possible for me to track all my comments later and hence did not keep record – might be editor can help – key words can be Dinu + Lion + In +Sheep+skin or be+cautious+while+dealing+over+internet+Dinu)

    I hope when I expose that will be published here.

    be cautious sirs be extremely cautious while dealing with someone.

  13. Anil Nawlakhe says:

    Let the KINGS collect physical stamps and invest in philately… and OTHERS enjoy the hobby of philately virtually through websites and databases. Wish Philately will be more joyful in any or both of the ways.

  14. MANOJ BIDASARIA says:

    It might be true to some extent only.there are two things to consider – 1. Though,the relation of mother and child is very pious, the child has some selfishness either in way of milk or love.
    2. In philately the so called philatelist /investors help it by making the market update and help both philatelist and government (the printer) to balance the demand and supply.
    In the article it is written that some old and rare collections are not available on postal counters. These had been preserved by some old philatelist /investors. So this process is not completely wrong.
    We old philatelists, for the survival of this healthy hobby, should cooperate and encourage the new philatelist for even our survival also.
    The article is very nice and thanks to Mr. Dinu for his current topic.

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