Learning through Philately: Art and Culture of India

By  Humera Ahmed

Rtd Chief Post Master General(WB Circle)

\"artPhilately Division  of India Post recently released  a   book cum album titled  Art And Culture  of India   with  mint stamps on the recto  with a write up on the verso .The book in navy blue background  consisted of 24 pages   of art board paper  with   a hard board cover  with a picture of a stamp of  Radha  in a Rajasthan Miniature   painting and was enclosed in navy blue case   which made it quite presentable .The book album is   an attempt to give an insight into the different facets of the rich and varied cultural heritage of the country.  The first page appropriately was Greetings  considering the fact that India was  a land of festivals ; the 2nd on Taj and Agra Fort  ;the 3rd on paintings which displayed   four stamps on miniatures   which was continued with a set of  four stamps on the next page and two on tribal paintings .This was followed by eight  stamps  of   handicrafts and Textiles of India ,six stamps n gems and jewellrey and a miniature sheet on Festivals of India .Music and dance  were displayed through  ten stamps and then the  book cum album ended .It had cost me  Rs 2500!A sum which very few could afford  but then  it is not a great price  to pay when you have passion for philately .But then there are few  who have such passion and they are generally  amongst  the  elderly .

                The  book brought back memories  of an album I had possessed  as a child which  had given  me an insight into so many facets of India -this book album does not even fully cover art and culture –  and which had been lost in transit when my father  was  transferred from Kolkatta(than Calcutta ) to Bombay now Mumbai .I had been so dejected  by the loss that I had given up collecting stamps .In those days    a stamp album was a prized possession of most educated families  and  presenting a stamp album  to a child on his/her  birthday was  an in thing . This was till the eighties and early nineties when letter writing was still in vogue .But all this changed with emails and SMS’s  and the  unnerving competition  for scoring marks.  Stamp collecting as a hobby  gradually declined  and when I was Postmaster General in Pune , I became acutely aware of the lack of  enthusiasm amongst children towards philately .There was hardly any response to essay Competition on stamps as a hobby .There were hardly any submissions from students for the “ Philarunner”a philately magazine started by Pune Region  though a complimentary copy was sent to most schools .

But this dismal picture is  not reflected in many other countries where communication technology is  even more advanced than in India .In UK and USA  and even in China  philately amongst youth was thriving  .One of the reasons was utilising philately as an aid to learning  through the active involvement of Philatelic Associations , the Philatelic Museum Society   and the Ministry of Education and Culture .In USA there is a campaign of Bring Stamps in the Class room through a scheme  called Stamp Teach-  a collaboration between the National Philatelic Museum   and the Council   of Philatelist.  In most countries it is the Philatelic associations which have taken the initiative  for encouraging  philatelic groups in schools and educational institutions . In UAE   it is the Emirates Philatelic Association which has taken the initiative in promoting philately amongst students .In UK the British Museum And  Archive has a free outreach scheme’ Stamps in School  co-ordinated by a retired teacher  Erene Grieves which has created interest in Philately  in students in primary and secondary schools .

In India  too the Philatelic Associations can take initiative by synchronizing  their efforts to promote Philately in schools   and other educational institutions  by sensitizing  the managements   .Many schools  boards have dispensed with the final examination till the eighth standard and therefore the child can learn at a comfortable  pace through more creative projects  in which stamps can be utilized to aid learning such as in natural Sciences ,History and cultural Heritage  .

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One Response to Learning through Philately: Art and Culture of India

  1. ramkumar says:

    sir
    it is a monument to be preserved because of due to certain difficulties prevailed at that time i was unable to collect the old stamp issues and now a chance to get the left out products through this issues but unfortunately i am un able to get a copy because being a common man of indian origin and as being an indian living in india and i am not an influential person except being a member of philatelic bureau i have been neglected. i do not know why it is a discrimination in india itself. further if i have to get a copy it is available in black market at an higher cost.i tried in sevaral sources to get a copy but all in vain also the copy of indian cinema through postage was unable to get. for this i got a reply from the sources that only a minimum copy were published and everything is sold out. being known that there will be a demand for such copies i donot know why the copies were rationed and without any prior information they were released. but at the same time stamps for sachin tendulcar playing 200th match were issued at a cost valuing six crores of rupees with a great banner this is for a one man show. what a great surprise at one side there is a rationing of philatelic issue of stamp book and on another side a mass issue of stamp for a single man. for this god only has to reply for such an act in philatelic bureau of india yes to say in our country or in our nation.

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