Saturday, January 9, 2016

Spelling Bee in Postage Stamps

It's been a while since the last blog post discussing errors in spelling on Indian postage stamps. Here are a couple recent ones. Both these stamp subjects were recognized in the new definitive stamp series, Makers of India. One of them, Syama Prasad Mookerjee (1901-1953) was also honored with commemorative postage stamps in 1978 and 2001. The first stamp in 1978 had English rendering of Mookerjee's name in a signature form, but the second one in 2001 showed his name typo-graphed in English and Hindi. It appears that Mookerjee's name in both the commemorative stamps is spelled similarly, but the new definitive stamp (2015) is quite different. So, now there are two variations of Syama Prasad Mookerjee's spelling. Why can't India Post use information from official documents such as Parliament records to confirm this prior to printing postage stamps? As far as the Hindi (Devanagiri) spelling goes, it is a well known tradition where the Mookerjee last name can also be replaced with Mukhopadhyaya as well. The problem here is that India Post puts this flexibility to full use. The stamp issued in 1978 and the new definitive stamp (2015) use Mukhopadhyaya, but the one from 2001 has Mookerjee on it. The Great India Post Confusion.

English renderings:
Syama Prasad Mookerjee (1978 and 2001)
Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (2015)

Vernacular Hindi spellings:
Syama Prasad Mookerjee (2001)
Syama Prasad Mukhopadhyaya (1978 and 2015)

Another stamp released as part of the Makers of India definitive stamp series, is to honor Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. There have been two postage stamps released in his memory (1966 and 1988) prior to the most recent one last year (2015). The first stamp in 1966 shows Azad's name as Abul Kalam Azad, not using the Maulana title. The next one to celebrate his birth centenary in 1988 shows his name as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, but the one in 2015 changed the spelling for his title from Maulana to Moulana. This change not be a significant one, but the issue is about consistency. Firstly, India Post must try refrain from repeating stamp subjects, but if pressed, stamp designers on its artists panel should at least attempt for uniform naming convention for well known personalities, institutions or events. Here's hoping things will be better in 2016.

English renderings:
Moulana Abul Kalam Azad (2015)
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1988)
Abul Kalam Azad (1966)

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