Thursday, February 20, 2014

India’s stamps: From Queen Victoria’s face to village farmer’s selfie

Dear Comrades,

Mumbai: Stamping out the elitist tag from a space traditionally reserved for great historical personalities, India Post has started a revolution of sorts by allowing anyone to have their face printed on a stamp — on the spot.

The customer’s photo can be printed on the famous perforated sheets alongside one of four beautiful flowers — the Pansy, the Dahlia, the Lily or the Cineraria on the right side.

“Anyone who wishes to have their face on the stamp has to carry his or her identity [card], and provide some essential details in a specific format,” said Chandrakant Langekar, senior supervisor and head of philatelic department at the General Post Office.
He added that even foreigners who wish to avail of this facility were welcome.
Some companies have also been using this new medium for communication purposes and reinforcing their brand identities.
Hindustan Petroleum is one such firm to go for the “My Stamp” service.
Enthusiastic customers from all walks of life are eager to be a part of the “great revolution” of putting their faces where one could previously only imagine the face of Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru, or a grand monument.
The youthful profile of Queen Victoria graced the first stamps issued in British India in 1854.
Advances in printing technology over the century and a half since then have enable on-the-spot printing of stamps and Indian postal authorities have decided to empower not only Indians in this novel fashion but foreigners and tourists who wish to take home a piece of Indian innovation.
The Post Office at Panaji, Goa has met with an enthusiastic response from tourists, who are especially happy to use the Rs5 denomination stamps to post letters to their own homes.
“There have been farmers with their colourful turbans, who give a large smile while posing for the photograph at the post office while prospective grooms and brides who want their pictures on the stamps, to be used as postage for their wedding invitation cards, also bring their pictures on CD,” said Santosh S. Kulkarni, assistant supervisor in the Department of Philately.
However, customers who wish to have their picture on the stamp must come in person, he said.
This was indeed a tough task for Tamanna, mother of 2-year-old Tasmai Datta, who wished to celebrate her child’s birthday, especially as the administration staff helped the photographer bring a smile to the child’s face!
Though the permission has been granted by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Government of India, Maharashtra is the only state to have rolled out the service, Kulkarni said.
So far the facility is available at the Mumbai Head Office and at the Chatrapatti Shivaji Domestic airport at Santacruz (departure segment), the Pune Head Office, the Nasik Head Office, Panaji, Goa and Nagpur Head Office.
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