Although, no political allegiances are declared and no biases for political ideologies made known to the customers, Indian news media, both print and television are considered 'independent'. Readers most likely discover the owners' political leanings through the course of their lifetimes and have no control over the outcomes. Such is also the case with postage stamp releases by India Post in the last decade or so. Among the 20 most read newspapers in India, about half of them have had stamps released for their 'achievements' in journalism. This in itself appears to be quite a feat! Shown below are 16 postage stamps that have direct association with Indian newspapers and were released between 2005 and 2013.
Two of these newspapers, The Times of India and Malayala Manorama have also managed to get multiple stamps released for their organizations. A 'golden' stamp was released in 1988 to commemorate 150 years of The Times of India. It seemed appropriate to celebrate this milestone for a widely read newspaper, but to commemorate the same newspaper 25 years later - especially when it's publishing standards have arguably been deteriorating (some even calling it journalism that sells) - is questionable. Malayala Manorama has been the most fortunate of the lot. In the last 25 years, this newspaper has been obliged with three Indian postage stamps. The first instance appeared well deserved, when the newspaper achieved its centenary in 1988. There were two other instances when K. M. Mathew, Manorama's Editor-in-Chief was honored in 2011 and its 125 years celebration in 2013. Even if one were to consider K. M. Mathew for this honor, it would have been best to commemorate his birth centenary in 2017.
These recent stamp issues glaringly flout the stamp issuance guidelines and appear to be a result of haphazard decision-making that provides discretionary powers to the government minister and officials. Stamp collectors and the common man deserve to know more about the process and final selections with regard to the stamp issue programs. Increased transparency, reliable research for subject development and a stamp advisory committee with more powers will go a long way to prevent this from recurrence.
|The Times of India postage stamps. Sesquicentennial celebrations in 1988 (left) and 175 years celebrations in 2013 (right)|
|More fortunate, Malyala Manorama. Three stamps commemorating the newspaper and its journalism. Centenary year stamp (1988; left), K. M. Mathew, Editor-in-Chief (2011; middle) and 125 years celebrations in 2013 (right).|