Sunday, November 29, 2015

Moving from Builders of Modern India to the Makers of India

The last definitive stamp series in India, the tenth, was the Builders of Modern India released in 2008-2009. It included 13 stamps in 12 denominations. Definitive stamps, unlike commemorative / special stamps are made available at post office for common use and are printed regularly.
Builders of Modern India
The Tenth Definitive Stamp Series

Print runs for definitive stamps are not fixed whereas commemorative stamps, as the name suggests are issued to commemorate special events, institutions or personalities of national and international importance, art and culture as well as social themes and are printed in fixed quantities.

The Builders of Modern India stamp series depicts five political leaders, two physicists, two cultural icons, one social reformer, one social religious leader and one industrialist. As a broad stroke and on surface it appears to be a decent selection for a recently independent country. But given the diversity of India, the list may not have been completely representative of the Indian society. 

Glaring omissions include political leaders with alternative view points (for e.g. Jayaprakash Narayan or Syama Prasad Mookerjee), a representative of North-East India, a sports personality (maybe Dhyan Chand) and a famous writer or poet. One should have to look no farther than Bharat Ratna awardees to make this a complete set.

Below is a tabulated version of the tenth definitive stamp series that provides a background for each personality honored on these stamps. It is ironical that three of the political leaders (highlighted in blue) belong to the same family, the Nehru-Gandhi family. These three stamps were released first, and together, even before Mahatma Gandhi's stamp that was released three months later.

Change of political leadership in India has allowed a review of this stamp series. The first change was to stop printing of the Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi stamps in July-August 2015. This resulted in some agitation in the opposition political parties, but facts appear to support a case for increasing representation of other leaders as well. The new political dispensation has decided to initiate a new definitive stamp series, Makers of India and its first stamp honoring Deendayal Upadhyaya (Rs 5) was released in November 2015. More on the new stamp series in a later blog post.

Builders of Modern India
Issue Description
Contribution to Modern India
01 December 2008
Jawaharlal Nehru
First Prime Minister
25 Paise
11 May 2009
E. V. Ramasami
Self Respect Movement
Social Reformer
50 Paise
01 March 2009
Mahatma Gandhi
Indian Independence
Re 1
01 March 2009
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
Indian Constitution
Modern Buddhist Movement
Rs 2
01 March 2009
Satyajit Ray
Rs 3
01 March 2009
Homi Jahangir Bhabha
Nuclear Physics
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Rs 4
01 December 2008
Indira Gandhi
Third Prime Minister
First Female Prime Minister
Rs 5
01 December 2008
Rajiv Gandhi
Sixth Prime Minister
Youngest Prime Minister
Rs 5
11 May 2009
C. V. Raman
Raman Scattering
Raman Effect
Rs 10
01 March 2009
J. R. D. Tata
Industrialization & Philanthropy
Tata Group
Rs 15
01 March 2009
Mother Teresa
Catholic Religious Sister
Missionaries of Charity
Rs 20
11 May 2009
Rukmini Devi Arundale
Classical Dance
Kalakshetra (Chennai)
Rs 50
Special Definitive
02 October 2009
Mahatma Gandhi
& Nonviolence
Indian Independence
Use of Nonviolence
Rs 25
                         Colors denote the release date.


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