An Unsung Indian Philatelist

With 20 gold medals in his kitty Anil Suri is still an unknown Indian. Unlike celebrities and cricketers, his noteworthy gold prizes which are as good as Olympics medals are unrecognized in his own country. Suri has represented India at several international philatelic championships. Anil is the guardian of a rare and one of its kind stamp collections. A Bureaucracy Today tete-a tete with an unsung Indian philatelist.

 Apart from running real estate business, Anil Suri is passionate about collecting unique and extraordinary stamps. The number of gold medals he has won internationally can easily surpass awards received by any sports person in India. Stamps, according to him, depict a story right from their designs to how they have been evolved over a period of time. Stamps have many aspects, says Suri. “There are colour trials and essays which transcend from hand-drawn designs to printed proofs. Their unusual usage during the pre-and post-stamp periods tells a unique tale,” he adds. 
However, the Indian king of Philately is far from his due recognition. His immense contribution, including highlighting India’s ancient civilization internationally, apart from preserving it, has been left unacknowledged. Despite consistently bringing laurels to India from across the globe through his philatelic collections and being critically acclaimed internationally, Suri’s mention is hardly sung. “I was once nominated for a Padma Shree award but never made it to the final list,” he says smilingly.

His diligent research has helped to rediscover unrecorded stories of the Princely State of Cochin and many other ancient cities. His collection “Fiscal of Cochin” which he has been presenting at the International Philatelic Exhibition since 1994, has always won him gold medals against fierce competition. The Cochin collection till today is regarded as the most comprehensive assortment.  “Last year I won a gold medal at the PhilaKorea World Stamp Exhibition and this year the Singapore World Stamps Exhibition honoured me with a gold award,” says Suri.
At the age of 22 years, Suri developed an interest of collecting stamps. Taking forward his father’s legacy he believed in creating his own collection of rare and exceptional stamps. And since that day to uptil now he has been winning gold medals back to back for his exhibited collection. “I picked up the interest in stamp collection from where my father and developed it further. I took my own subjects on Princely States and tried to rediscover the forgotten story,” he tells Bureaucracy Today.


His pioneering efforts have been recognized as the world’s best collection of stamps of the erstwhile Princely States of Cochin, Jammu and Kashmir, Mysore, Alwar, Kapurthala, Gondal and Rampur among others. “Stamp collection is never about numbers, “says Anil Suri. “It’s more about what it represents,” he adds.  While the first collection of Suri was displayed in the year 1994, he has been representing India at the international stage for decades and is an integral part of the Federation of International Philately. Carrying our national flag he has also represented India three times as a National Commissioner in the federation. “I personally believe that philatelic should be a sporting event,” he opines.

However, Suri feels that there’s a lot of hassle while seeking permission for stamp export. For stamp exhibitions which are held abroad Suri has to undergo a long tedious procedure for seeking temporary export papers.” As there is no law pertaining to the temporary export of a stamp collection many a time there are delays in getting permission from higher authorities. The bureaucracy has a lot to do with the delay,” he says. “For us everything is time-bound and when we do not get permission on time from ministries and bureaucrats, tension develops. Such things don’t happen in other countries. Anyone’s momentum would break down with such a long procedure. This is the agony of a gold medallist in India,” he tells Bureaucracy Today.

However he also says, “With the intervention of our Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma thing moved quickly.”


Suri believes that if one is not passionate one really can’t work. Thus his passion for stamp collection drives him relentlessly to travel and attend international exhibitions, seminars and auction events. At the same time he also balances his personal and professional life of being engaged in real estate business.

While it takes a lifetime to build a collection of rare things, Suri’s pioneering efforts have taken India to a new height in the field of philately. He has also started working on a subject of “Undivided Punjab” with a collection of pre-stamp covers, postal history, existing prior to 1854 era. “Philately is a vast field and there are several subjects which are still unexplored. The subject of Punjab has fascinated me and I will develop a unique collection soon,” says Suri.

Suri will be representing India at New York’s Philately Exhibition of 2016. With an insurmountable distinction of having brought the highest number of Gold medals to India from the International Philatelic Exhibition from all parts of the world Suri as a philatelist deserves his due recognition.(

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