Sunday, November 25, 2018

India Post Stamp Updates (Oct-Dec 2018) - Archived


Click here to the first half of 2018

Last Update (05 Jan 2019): This will be the final post for 2018 stamp issues. India Post delivered a surprise December with 10 stamp issues, majority in last two weeks of the month. After the stamp on Sabri Khan, the ones on Rajkumar Shukla and Gulabrao Maharaj were issued in quick succession. The stamp on Rajkumar Shukla was prematurely available since April 2018 and I'd shared images of letters posted with this stamp much earlier than the issue date on Twitter. MoS Communications dedicated the stamp on Shukla in New Delhi. A stamp was issued on Raj Kumar Shukla in 2000 as well. Print quantity of that stamp in 2000 was only 0.1 million and currently sells at a high premium. 

A stamp on philosopher and saint Gulabrao Maharaj was dedicated at a ceremony in Amravati district in Maharasthra. This stamp was approved and issued with no unexpected delays or problems. I'd shared issuance date of this stamp in late-September itself (click here).

Prime Minister of India had dedicated the National Police Memorial to the country on 21st October this year. This day is celebrated as Police Commemoration Day (Customized MyStamp was issued in Oct 2017). Within two months of inauguration of this memorial, the Prime Minister dedicated two stamps on the National Police Memorial at a Police officials conference in Kevadia Colony (where Statue of Unity is situated), Gujarat. The stamp was designed by Alka Sharma and is probably among the only decent design by this artist in the last several years.

A stamp on Paika Rebellion (Paika Bidroha) to celebrate its 200 years was issued on 24th December by the Prime Minister of India in Bhubaneswar. The bicentenary was actually completed in March 2017 itself, so the stamp issue was about 1.5 years delayed. Subir Das designed the stamp, which will likely be his last (information sheet shows his name as Late Subir Das). Alka Sharma helped design the first day cover. The stamp and FDC used images from a memorial in Odisha, and wasn't creatively the best. The stamp Vellore Mutiny (2006) was rather nicely done.

Another two personality stamps were issued last month. One on spiritual duo of the Swaminarayan-Gunatit sect of Hinduism, Kakaji and Pappaji Maharaj and the other on Maharaja Suheldev. Stamp on Kakaji and Pappaji was diamond shaped and dedicated at an event in Vadodara district, Gujarat during Kakaji's birth centenary celebrations. India Post had issued a stamp Kakaji Maharaj in March 2003 as well. This new stamp now includes Pappaji as well. India Post officials were present at the event in Gujarat. Prime Minister of India also dedicated a stamp on King Suheldev in Ghazipur (UP). Issuance of this stamp was announced by MoS Communications in February this year.

Now about the blockbuster stamp issues. It began with initiation of a new stamp series on UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. The first issue in the series was on Hill Forts of Rajasthan including Amer, Chittorgarh, Gagron, Jaisalmer, Kumbhalgarh and Ranthambore forts. Brahm Prakash designed the stamps in his classical style that uses photos of places/objects. The miniature sheet was in the stamp of UNESCO's logo, becoming the second odd-shaped sheet from India Post. The previous one was on Hockey World Cup in November 2018.

Prime Minister of India dedicated a record fourth stamp in December. This one was a set of three stamps to commemorate 75 years of first flag hoisting in Port Blair (Andaman & Nicobar islands) by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The stamps were appropriately done by Sankha Samanta, depicting several details of the events that may have occurred in 1943 when Netaji visited Port Blair. The first stamp shows his arrival at the airport and receiving a guard of honor. The second stamp shows Netaji saluting the Indian flag and the third stamp has Cellular Jail as the main subject. Netaji had visited Cellular Jail in 1943 and this national monument has remained important for Indian freedom struggle. Similar to the Gandhi 150 stamp issue in October, denominations of these three stamps total to Rupees 75 symbolic of the 75th anniversary of this event. 

Yet another series of stamps appeared to have begun. This one on Indian Fashion. Suresh Kumar designed the first set of four stamps titled Indian Fashion - Through the Ages. The stamps show clothing and fashion from Harappan age to the Indian princely states. The stamps cover Harappa, Mohenjo-drao, Mauryan, Sunga, Mughal (Nur Jahan), Awadh (Ghazi-ud-din Haider) periods and Indian princely states.

The final commemorative stamps for the last year were a follow up on the Geographical Indication (GI) stamps. This set of stamps were on Handicrafts of India. All the five stamps show GI registered handicraft products. These along with the Handlooms of India stamps (August 2018) are probably among my favorite of 2018 and were designed by my favorite stamp artist, Kamleshwar Singh. Layout of these five stamp miniature sheet was identical between the Handicraft and Handloom stamps. Blue pottery of Jaipur, Palakkad Maddalam, Karnataka bronzeware, Kutch embroidery and Sikki grass products of Bihar are the five products shown on the handicraft stamps. 

Couple of other customized/corporate MyStamp sheetlets were issued as well. This wraps up another mega year in Indian philately. The year saw 117 commemorative stamps totaling to Rupees 1068 were issued. Along with these, 23 miniature sheets (Rupees 876) and 20 sheetlets (Rupees 2295) were also issue. The year saw only 5 se-tenant stamps being issued (CISF, Safdarjung Hospital, Prithviraj Chauhan, MyStamp-Andhra Tourism and MyStamp-IIT Bombay). Let me know if you need any additional information; I will try to find. Happy New Year.

India Post Commemorative Stamps in Dec 2018:
18 Dec - Rajkumar Shukla
19 Dec - Gulabrao Maharaj
22 Dec - National Police Memorial
24 Dec - Paika Rebellion
28 Dec - Kakaji & Pappaji
29 Dec - Maharaja Suheldev
29 Dec - Hill Forts of Rajasthan (UNESCO World Heritage Sites)
30 Dec - 75th Anniversary of First Flag Hoisting at Port Blair
31 Dec - Indian Fashion - Through the Ages
31 Dec - Handicrafts of India (GI Registered Handicrafts Products)

India Post Customized/Corporate MyStamp issues in Dec 2018:
15 Dec - MyStamp - Bangalore Club
18 Dec - MyStamp - SBI Hyderabad Branch (150 Years)

Update (16 Dec 2018): The typical last-minute rush to issue many stamps in December is on again. This is quite typical with India Post, when several stamps are printed, but delayed in issuance. All these stamps end up being released in December, to avoid confusion in the following year.

Toward the end of last month, a set of five stamps was issued during the Hockey world cup that is being played in Bhubaneswar (Odisha). Kamleshwar Singh did the design, which had some elements of local temples, deities etc on the miniature sheet that was shaped like an Olive Ridley turtle. It appears to be the first odd shaped miniature sheet issued by India Post. The stamps were issued by the Chief Minister of Odisha with government officials.

The first half of December did not see much activity, but many issues are planned for the remainder of the month. It began with the issuance of a stamp on Sarangi musician, Ustad Sabri Khan on 13th December by MoS Communications in New Delhi. This stamp was proposed for issuance in July-August this year, and I'd shared two stamp designs by Kamleshwar Singh back then on Twitter. One of these designs was issued as the final design.

Several MyStamps were also dedicated or put for sale in the last few weeks. Prime Minister of India issued the corporate MyStamp on 75 Years of Dainik Jagran, a news daily in Hindi in early December. Coincidentally, commemorative stamps have been issued by India Post on two previous editors (Narendra Mohan and Puran Chandra Gupta) of the newspaper and the new MyStamp shows both the editors as well. Another corporate MyStamp was issued in New Delhi on Maulana Azad Dental Institute. I recently also found a personalized MyStamp on Red Panda being sent to post offices, but I'm yet to see completed sheets out with collectors.

India Post Forthcoming Commemorative Stamps in Dec 2018:
18 Dec - Rajkumar Shukla
19 Dec - Gulabrao Maharaj
22 Dec - National Police Memorial
24 Dec - Paika Rebellion
28 Dec - Kakaji & Pappaji
29 Dec - Maharaja Suheldev
30 Dec - 75 Years of Azad Hind Government (First Flag Hoisting in Port Blair)

India Post Commemorative Stamps in Nov-Dec 2018:
28 Nov - Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 (5 designs)
13 Dec - Ustad Sabri Khan

India Post Customized MyStamps in Nov-Dec 2018:
07 Dec - MyStamp - Dainik Jagran
11 Dec - MyStamp - Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences
November - MyStamp - TNPL - Paper from Bagasse
December - MyStamp - Red Panda

Update (25 Nov 2018): It's been a quiet period last two months for new postage stamps from India Post. Barely any new stamps were issued in most of October and November. It must be a good reprieve for stamp collectors that were inundated with new stamps over the last two years. There are scored of pending stamp issues, which have been delayed or postponed. Maybe some of these will be issued in December 2018, let's see. I'm hoping a properly vetted stamp issue program is put out for 2019 and shared with collectors. In the meanwhile, here's a list of the few stamps that were released recently.

India Post Commemorative Stamps in Nov 2018:
03 Nov - 3rd Battalion The Rajputana Rifles (1818-2018)
14 Nov - Children's Day - Communal Harmony (2 designs)

India Post Customized MyStamps in Oct-Nov 2018:
29 Oct - MyStamp - World Stroke Day
11 Nov - MyStamp - Union Bank of India
Oct - MyStamp - Hyundai
Oct - MyStamp - ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad 

Update (20 Oct 2018): Apart from the circular stamps to start Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary celebrations, not much has happened in October. India's Prime Minister dedicated stamps in 7 designs showing different facets of Mahatma Gandhi's life during a sanitation event on 2nd October. These were the first ever circular stamps issued by India Post. A miniature sheet comprised of all 7 stamps (denominations of stamps symbolically total to Rupees 150) and individual sheets of 20 stamps each were issued. Similar to the Ramayana stamp issue last year, these stamps were showcased at all of India's embassies abroad. 

Many new stamp proposals and subjects have been approved for issuance, but not much has been done about fixing release dates. In response to an RTI application earlier this year, India Post had indicated a tentative release plan for several stamps, but most of that has not been followed through. Instead of issuing well designed commemorative/special stamps, a steady stream of corporate MyStamps are being issued. These customized MyStamps are quite expensive, and are less likely to be listed in stamp catalogs.

India Post Commemorative Stamps in Oct 2018:
02 Oct - 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

India Post Customized MyStamps in Sep-Oct 2018:
30 Sep - MyStamp - Dr. MGR & Selvi Jayalalithaa Memorial
04 Oct - MyStamp - Rayat Shikshan Sansthan
05 Oct - MyStamp - Narayan Seva Sansthan
12 Oct - MyStamp - National Human Rights Commission
Oct - MyStamp - Taj Connemara
Oct - MyStamp - Hyundai
Oct - MyStamp - ICMR - National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad

Update (14 Oct 2018): I'm back to add details for commemorative stamps issued in September and possibly cover MyStamps as well. The first stamp in September was issued in Bengalurur on freedon fighter Mahadevappa Mailar (1911-1943). Mailar was the only representative from Karnataka on Mahatma Gandhi's Dandi March in 1930. He was shot by the British along with two others while they were attempting to loot a temple in Haveri, Karnataka. The stamp was requested to be issued by Jagadish Shettar, former CM of Karnataka and MoS Communications obliged by being present at the dedication ceremony. Even though a sheetlet of 9 stamps has been issued, it doesn't seem to be available for sale on ePostOffice or many post offices. I wonder if SPP Hyderabad is still backlogged with this product like the Solar System miniature sheet, which has been unavailable for the last 7 months.

Yet another joint stamp issue was released in September - that's fourth straight month of joint stamps this year. Joint stamps between India and Serbia were planned to be released on 9th October, but then rescheduled for issuance in early September when India's Vice President was to travel to Serbia for an official visit. The trip was postponed due to the demise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and as a result the stamp was dedicated a bit later on 15th September when the trip finally happened. I've written a detailed post on these stamps showing Swami Vivekananda and Nikola Tesla, which was definitely a good choice by both the postal administrations. I don't really like the miniature sheet and first day covers prepared by India Post - there's not creativity in either. Gulistaan was the credited designer.

Two other stamps - Hislop College, Nagpur and Sant Ganinath were issued later in September. Minister of Shipping and Roads was present at the ceremony in Nagpur and MoS Communications dedicated the stamp on Ganinath in his parliamentary constituency, Ghazipur. The stamp on Ganinath was decently designed, showing the sage as an incarnation of Lord Shiva, but the one on Hislop College was among the worst stamp designs in recent times. I don't really understand why such low quality work is being approved for printing. Colleges typically have buildings that can be shown on stamps, worst just the logo may suffice. Vinita Sinha, who also did the stamp on Damodar Hari Chapekar designed this dull and lackluster stamp. It's quite disappointing that even though Kamleshwar Singh and Sankha Samanta work with India Post, but are not being engaged often enough to lead the design process.

On to MyStamps now. Let me make it clear that the customized corporate MyStamp sheetlets are probably not as important to collect, but the ones that can be personalized may be good to buy. India Post has been continually put both types of MyStamps for sale over the last few months. A series of 12 sheetlets, one each for zodiac signs was made available for purchase since early July. So was a sheetlet on the Ridge in Shimla. This is the second set of MyStamp sheetlets on Zodiac signs, after the first one in 2011 issued during Indepex 2011. August saw two personalized sheetlets being issued -  one on Kurinji flower and another one on Victoria Memorial, Kolkata. Kurinji flower blooms once in 12 years, and a commemorative stamp was released on its last mass flowering in 2006. This is also the second MyStamp on Victoria Memorial after the one in 2015, albeit a new design and a larger MyStamp this time around. For some unknown reason, ePostOffice has stopped selling personalized MyStamp sheetlets and is only selling the corporate ones with pre-printed tabs.

Lastly, the least interesting, customized MyStamp sheetlets. These are the expensive stamps issued at the behest of organizations or companies by making a payment to India Post. There is very little interest in stamp collectors to buy these and Scott catalog is not listing these either. I cover them, just in case some collectors plan to complete their MyStamp collection, given this is still valid postage. July saw a new size of MyStamp being issued. It was on Christ University Bangalore's golden jubilee. The sheet still contains 12 stamps, but the stamps are much longer than the standard size. Indian Paper Traders Association got a MyStamp printed and released on Paper Day, so did Ashok Leyland, the truck manufacturer. Lilavati Hospital got two types of MyStamp sheetlets printed and issued whereas Jharkhand Government paid to get a stamp on Karma Parab, a festival in Jharkhand.

This catches up to end of September for India Post stamps. Leave me a message below if there are any questions or comments. Apart from the circular stamps on Mahatma Gandhi, there hasn't been much activity to report in October.

Update (01 Oct 2018): Here you go. I'll start describing the stamp issues chronologically as they were issued from July onward. The stamp on ICAI - the organization dealing with certified accountants was nicely designed by one of my favorite stamp artists, Kamleshwar Singh. The stamp design clearly elucidates the role of ICAI and that occasion for issuance. It was issued in New Delhi by the President of India to celebrate 70 years of the institute. Will a stamp be issued on the Company Secretary Institute's golden jubilee as well?

Next was a stamp on the 90th birth anniversary of classical singer M. L. Vasanthakumari of the Carnatic music tradition. She was one among the trinity of modern Carnatic singers - other two being M. S. Subbulakshmi and D. K. Pattammal, both were earlier seen on stamps from 2005 and 2014, respectively. Sankha Samanta designed the stamp that was issued in Chennai Music Academy by India's defense minster and MoS Communications. Carnatic musician Sudha Raghunathan led the efforts to get the stamp proposal approved and issued. I remember Ms. Raghunathan also being present at the event for M. S. Subbulakshmi stamp release event at United Nations as well. Well done, madam.

The stamp on Damodar Hari Chapekar, freedom fighter from Pune was issued by the Speaker of Lok Sabha. This stamp along with one on Rajkumar Shukla were prematurely available in some post offices and I've seen several examples of these stamps being used on cover before official issue date. Surprisingly, the stamp on Rajkumar Shukla is yet to be issued and is being freely sold on eBay. I wish the stamp on Chapekar was issued as one that included all three Chapekar brothers and not just the elder one. Their heroic fight against the British rule was a combined effort and it would've been best to recognize them together, as previously done for Murmu brothers (2002) and Pandiar brothers (2004).

The second joint with South Africa within this year was issued in Johannesburg when the Prime Minister of India was traveling for the 10th BRICS Summit. The stamp sheet celebrates the birth centenary of Nelson Mandela and 125th year of Mahatma Gandhi's Pietermarizburg Station Incident. I've posted additional details for this and other joint issues with South Africa here, but here's another point to note. India Post's souvenir sheet for this issue is the size of regular printer paper, which is almost four times the size of South African sheet. I've also noted comments on Twitter about poor paper quality used by SPP Hyderabad. I really hope miniature sheet size is reduced in the future to make them aesthetically pleasing and friendly for stamp collection albums and stock sheets.

Hepatitis B and C are the major types of hepatitis and these two infections may not show for a long period. Timely testing and treatment are required to overcome potential threats from the disease. On World Hepatitis Day (28th July), India Post launched a stamp to create awareness about a new federal government program on Viral Hepatitis Control. The stamp deigned by Suresh Kumar shows a pair of hands acting as a protection for the liver and graphics depicting treatment and hygiene in the bottom half of the stamp.

August began with a set of stamps being issued on National Handloom Day (7th August). A well designed issue, again by Kamleshwar Singh, showed five textiles/products that have Geographical Indication registrations. Textiles/products included were Baluchari saree, Kashmir Pashmina, Ikat, Pochampally and Bhagalpur silk. The dedication ceremony was held in Jaipur, where the main event for Handloom Day was held. Initially the Textile minister, MoS Communications and Rajasthan Chief Minister were to attend, but none of them showed up and instead MoS Textiles came late for a brief stopover. So much, for weavers and artists.

India Post had solicited entries for a photography competition in June and July to showcase some holiday destinations in the country. Several thousand pictures were received and a two stamps along with a miniature sheet were issued on Independence Day (15th August). Crowdsourcing for ideas including the ones on stamps has been a consistent feature of this federal government and is a welcome change. The only gripe with these stamps was the denominations being high for no apparent reason and no mention of the actual placed shown on the stamps and philatelic products.

The stamp on Patna University, which was originally planned for issuance in January/February was finally released by HRD Minister in the centenary closing event in Patna on 25th August. Brahm Prakash designed the stamp exactly the same way as the one on Banaras Hindu University stamp last year - by creating a collage of university buildings. I don't mind this style, but once was enough. Anyways, this is an important school, and the stamp was worth the wait.

Finally, the much delayed joint stamp issue with Armenia was dedicated at an event in Yerevan on 29th August. After the delay in March and June, I was informed by the HayPost staff about a late-August release, and that turned out to be true. I was surprised to see that the Armenian dance form was changed last minute and that resulted in India Post having to redo its first day cover as well. The original plan was to include Manipuri and Berd dances, but eventually Aremnia decided to go with Hov Arek instead of Berd. I've posted details for the joint stamps here, go check it out.

That covers July and August commemorative stamps. I'll post more details for September issues as well as all the MyStamps shortly.

Update (30 Sep 2018): I know its been three months since this post was last updated, but I've been busy at work; also thinking of a couple of better ways to organize future stamp subjects and the BetterPhilately wish list. So here's the path I have in mind: I will continue to share information about the current and announced issues in individual posts, but maintain a separate post for wish list and another one for stamp proposals that have been submitted to India Post and may be considered pending. I have a list of over 500 stamp proposals that were given to India Post over the last decade. These can eventually all be categorized as dead proposals or the ones that still have potential. I will start doing this within 2018. Here's a quick list of stamps that were issued from July to September. I'll come back later and add some interesting details or anecdotes for each of the issues.

India Post Commemorative Stamps in Jul-Sep 2018:
01 Jul - The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (70th Year)
03 Jul - M. L. Vasanthakumari
08 Jul - Damodar Hari Chapekar
26 Jul - India-South Africa: Joint Issue (Mahatma Gandhi & Nelson Mandela)
28 Jul - National Viral Hepatitis Control Program

07 Aug - Handlooms of India - Geographical Indication registered (5 designs)
15 Aug - Holiday Destinations in India (2 designs)
25 Aug - Patna University (1917-2017)
29 Aug - India-Armenia: Joint Issue (Manipuri and Hov Arek dances)

03 Sep - Martyr Mahadevappa Maliar
15 Sep - India-Serbia: Joint Issue (Swami Vivekananda and Nikola Tesla)
15 Sep - Hislop College, Nagpur
23 Sep - Sant Ganinath

India Post Personalized MyStamps in Jul-Sep 2018:
07 Jul - MyStamp - Zodiac Signs (12 sheetlets)
09 Jul - MyStamp - 'The Ridge' Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
15 Aug - MyStamp - Kurinji
Aug - MyStamp - Victoria Memorial, Kolkata

India Post Customized MyStamps in Jul-Sep 2018:
11 Jul - MyStamp - Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, India
01 Aug - MyStamp - Paper Day (1st August)
24 Aug - MyStamp - Lilavati Hospital (Purple background)
24 Aug - MyStamp - Lilavati Hospital (Blue background)
07 Sep - MyStamp - Ashok Leyland - Ennore Plant (70 Years)
18 Sep - MyStamp - Karma Parab

Stamps Approved for Issuance
Thematic Issues
Birds: Endangered & Critically Endangered
Boats of India
Bridal Costumes of India
Four Dhamas (Char Dham)
Fragrant Stamps (Chocolate, Strawberry)
Historical Gates of Indian Forts
Indian Perfume
Jataka Tales
Mehandi (Lawsona inermis)
Minerals of India
Musical Instruments (Chimta, Dotara, Ektara, Khartal, Tumbi)
Palace on Wheels
Shaktipeeth Temples (Kalighat, Kamkhya, Meenakshi, Vaishno Devi)
Terracotta Temples of India
Traditional Embroideries of India
Tribes of India
Wildlife – Flora & Fauna

Other Issues
Aga Khan Foundation
Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (60 Years)
Eastern Naval Command (50 Years)
HMS Minden & HMS Trincomalee (1810-1811)
India’s Participation in World War I
Induction of Pilatus PC-7 Mk II
University of Mysore

Acharya Bodhihdharma & Efflorescence of Zen Culture
Acharya Konda Laxman Bapuji
Bhairon Singh Shekhawat
Dr. B. P. Radhakrishna
Gaurishankar Govardhan Joshi 'Dhumketu'
Girdharilal Bhargava
Lala Thunthee Mull
M. Balamuralikrishna
Pandit Savai Gandharva
Professor Ram Chand Paul
Raja Todarmal
Sant Pipaji Maharaj
Swami Karpatri Ji
Vedanta Desikan

Stamps Issued from the approved proposals
150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi (02 October)
3rd Battalion Rajputana Rifles (03 November)
Children's Day - Communal Harmony (14 November)
Utkal University - 75 Years (27 November)
Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 (27 November)
Ustad Sabri Khan (13 December)
Rajkumar Shukla (18 December)
Gulabrao Maharaj (19 December)
Kakaji & Pappaji Maharaj (28 December)
Maharaja Suheldev (29 December)
Paika Rebellion (24 December)
UNESCO Heritage Sites (29 December)
Indian Fashion Industry (31 December)

Monday, October 15, 2018

United States 2018 - Stamp Releases & Designers

Click on the images to and right click to save. Print quantities of 20 million or less are highlighted in yellow.

I've not been able to post much about United States postal stamp this year. It was a busy year with some unplanned travel and work, but given the regular and detailed updates on, Linn's and APS, collectors are always able to find the relevant information, unlike India Post stamps. I'm posting print quantities and stamp artist details for all stamps issued in 2018 in the table below. I've noticed that over the last few years the number of stamps with less than 20 million print run has increased a lot, likely reflecting reduced use of stamps and mail. Surprisingly there was no postal stationary released and a butterfly stamp that was previewed last year was not issued this year either. Has that series ended? We'll have to wait to hear from the post office for more details. Let me know in the comments below if anything is missing or you'd like to see something else posted on here.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

France-India: Joint Stamp Issues

Other than Russia, South Africa and Iran, France is the only other country to have issued two or more joint stamp issues with India.

The joint issue in 2003 (released on 29th November) showed identical designs, one each from India and France. India's national bird peacock and a rooster from France were selected to be shown on the stamps. The stamps were considered to deliver a message of renewal through these significant birds and the artwork in myriad of colors. I've been searching for the source of these designs for a couple of weeks, but I've finally managed to get accurate information for both the stamp images.

The stamp from France depicts a 15th century artwork in the Book of Hours (Heures a l'usage de Rome in French) created in Provence, France. Two artists, Barthelemy d'Eyck (also known as the Master of the Annunciation of Aix-en-Provence) and Enguerrand Quarton (1410-1466) illustrated this book consisting of 225 leaves, 10 large miniatures and 24 calendar illustrations. Book of Hours is Christian prayer book that was particularly popular in the middle ages. This French Book of Hours contains several illustrations showing months and zodiac signs. The rooster depicted on the stamp was likely done by d'Eyck. This book is currently in Morgan Library's collection in New York City. See an image of the page from this book below.

The stamp design from India shows peacock from the back of a 19th century Sarpech jewelry (turban ornament). This handmade sarpech used gold and precious stones done in an intricate art form called Minakari. Minakari was developed and promoted during the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's rule, and used gems and precious stones, and enamels to make jewelry, royal thrones etc. Minakari is still used to make jewelry, especially in Jaipur and uses flowers, plants, and animal forms as the main design elements. The sarpech shown on the stamp is likely a 19th century piece from Rajasthan, which consists of three clusters, a hexagonal center piece and two rectangular pieces, each showing chrysanthemum flowers and a peacock.

Indian stamp was designed by Kamleshwar Singh and was printed in sheetlets of 8 se-tenant pairs along with miniature sheets containing both the stamps. La Poste of France printed individual stamps in sheets of 30 each, which were designed by Claude Jumelet. I've seen the date of issue in France shown as 01st December, but that's the general sale date, and the first day issue date remains the same in both the countries.
France-India joint stamp issue from 2003
After 12 years of the first collaboration, India and France celebrated 50 years of cooperation in space science by issuing another joint stamp. The stamps, again one from each country, showed two satellites - Megha-Tropiques and SARAL, on one stamp each. India's space agency ISRO and France's CNES have cooperated in space research since an early agreement in 1964 to build and launch sounding rockets in India. Increased cooperation eventually led to launch of the Megha-Tropiques satellite in 2011 and SARAL in 2013.

Megha-Tropiques launched in October 2011 was intended to study water cycle and energy exchanges in the tropics. The satellite is expected to provide insight into the contribution of the water cycle to the tropical atmosphere. The main aim appears to be to understand life cycle of convective systems that influence tropical climate and their role in energy and moisture budget of the atmosphere in the tropical regions.

SARAL or the Satellite with ARgos and ALtika payloads was launched in February 2013 to study ocean circulation and sea surface elevation. The two main payloads were built by CNES along with one from ISRO. The satellite launched using ISROs' PSLV rocket will help in marine meteorology, climate and environmental monitoring, sea state and seasonal forecasting, oceanography, earth systems and climate research and protection of biodiversity and maritime security.

France's La Poste printed individual stamps in sheets of 42 each. Like most other joint issued in France, La Poste put a presentation pack for sale along with two types of pre-stamped envelopes and a brochure with cancelled stamps from both countries. India Post printed the stamps in individual sheets with 45 stamps in each sheet along with a miniature sheet with both the stamps. Sankha Samanta designed the stamp showing SARAL satellite and David Ducros of France did the artwork for the stamp showing Megha-Tropiques satellite. These stamps were issued at an event on 10th April 2015 when the Prime Minister of India traveled to France for an official visit.

If you found this to be an interesting read, do leave comments or suggestions below.
India-France joint issue (2015) on 50 years of cooperation in space science

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Belarus-India: Joint Stamp Issue (2017)

Belarus and India issued a joint stamp on 12th September 2017 to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations. After the former Soviet Union was re-organized into several independent countries in 1991, India established diplomatic relations with the 15 new countries over the next couple of years. So, the 25th year of establishing these relations were celebrated in 2016-2017, including the joint stamp with Belarus i 2017 and a belated one with Armenia in late 2018 (see here). These two issues along with the one with Russia in 2017 (see here), are the three joint stamp issues with former Soviet republics that have so far been commemorated with India.

The theme for the joint stamp with Belarus was quite simple: National Symbols. Belarus has been issuing similar stamps with a host of other nations over the last few years, some joint and some unilaterally. Many recent stamps from Belarus just show national emblems from two countries and not much else. Belarus national emblem has several elements including an outline map of Belarus, partial globe showing Eurasia, partial sun emanating golden sun rays, stalks of wheat adorned by flax flowers and clovers. Remainder of the symbol is wrapped with red and green ribbons and official name of Belarus is inscribed at the bottom.

On the other hand, India's national emblem is quite simple. It contains a two dimensional adaptation of the Ashokan Lion Capital from Sarnath. The original sculpture shows four lions facing in four directions, symbolizing courage, power, confidence and pride. This resides on a circular base, which shows the Ashokan Dharma Chakra (wheel) and several animals including a horse, bull, elephant and lion. This entire sculpture is placed on a blooming lotus. The official symbol is a 2D adaptation shows a few limited features. A motto meaning Truth Alone Triumphs from the Hindu Upanishads is inscribed under the lion capital emblem.

Given Belarus Post Office has been using the same stamp format showing national symbols for the last few years, it's safe to assume Belarus designed the stamp and India Post used the same design. India Post issued the stamp in individual sheet of 45 stamps (Rupees 25 denomination) along with a miniature sheet containing one stamp. Kamleshwar Singh deigned the miniature sheet that shows the Lotus Temple in New Delhi and the National Library in Minsk. Belarus version of the stamp was issued in sheetlets of 6 stamps, with an element of embossing and red hot foil showing the National Library and Lotus Temple in the selvage. Belarus stamp was issued as minimum postage for international mail in 60,000 copies. India Post issued a total of 0.5 million stamps in individual sheets and 0.1 million souvenir sheets.

The stamps were dedicated at a ceremony in New Delhi when the President of Belarus was visiting India for an official visit.
India-Belarus: Joint Stamp Issue - Souvenir Sheet from India Post
Sheetlet from Belarus Post Office showing National Library, Misk and Lotus Temple, New Delhi

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Serbia-India: Joint Stamp Issue (2018)

Updated on 22 Sep 2018: A joint stamp issue between India and Serbia was announced by Serbia Post Office as early as January this year, but India Post officials did not confirm the existence of this stamp set, despite repeated requests, until it's very issuance on 15th September. The stamp were originally planned for release on 9th October, but were later scheduled for release on 3rd September during an official trip of the Vice President of India to Serbia. Due to the national mourning period in late-August for the former Prime Minister of India Vajpayee, the dates of this trip were adjusted and changed to 15th September. So, even though these were issued a few weeks earlier than originally known, there was a minor last minute delay.

The stamp subject for the joint stamp issue is quite interesting. The Serbian side chose well known inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla and the Indian government chose the well known philosopher and spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda. On the surface this appears to be a complete mismatch; with a scientist and a religious philosopher, but Tesla and Vivekananda have something in common and shared a friendship. Serbia and India are celebrating 70 years of their diplomatic relations and 2018 is also 125th year of Swami Vivekananda's landmark speech on Hinduism during the World Religion Parliament in Chicago (1893). So, kudos to the postal administrations for this well thought commemoration.
India-Serbia: Joint Issue (2018) - Swami Vivekananda & Nikola Tesla
The stamp on Tesla was designed by Boban Savic 'Geto' of Serbia and the one on Vivekananda was done by Gulistaan, an artist working with the Indian Post Office. Stamps from the Serbia Post Office were printed in sheetlets of 4 se-tenant pairs (65,000 stamps each). In addition to the two individual stamp sheets (45 stamps each), India Post also issued a souvenir sheet comprised of the two stamps. I'm still awaiting details on the print quantity for the Indian stamps, but will add it here once available.
Serbian version of the Joint Stamp Issue with India
I've noticed several collectors wonder about the links between Tesla and Vivekananda, so it was worth looking for some information about their connection and friendship. Apparently it all began in February 1896 in New York City, when Tesla and Vivekananda met after a play by actress Sarah Bernhardt. After discussions and exchanges about Akasha, Prana and Kalpa, Swami ji and Tesla's friendship seems to have begun. Vivekananda believed that if Tesla can prove matter can be reduced to energy, the concept of Vedanta would be backed by Western science as well. Tesla continued his research to prove this, and was influenced by Vivekananda in later years, even using Sanskrit words Akasha and Prana for matter and energy, respectively. Neither Tesla was fully successful in proving this theory, nor Vivekananda was alive much longer to observe this. But, there was clear connect between the East and West and is nicely represented in these stamps.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Armenia-India Joint Stamp Issue (2018)

Update (14 Sep 2018): After so many delays and rescheduled dates, the joint stamps between Armenia and India were dedicated at a ceremony in Yerevan, Armenia on 29th August 2018. Thanks to HayPost officials, the late-August date timing that I'd shared here and on Twitter was accurate. Even though the stamp subject of dances remained, Armenia appears to have changed their dance form at the last minute. India Post first day covers that were initially printed showed Berd dance, but the final stamps show Hov Arek dance form, so the FDCs were likely reprinted. The new envelopes from India Post show some architectural elements from unknown monuments.

Armenia Post issued the stamps in a sheetlet of 5 se-tenant pairs. HayPost's website is selling singles and sheetlets, albeit higher than face value price, which is quite surprising. FDCs have been printed, in an unknown quantity and are not available on their website. Armenian FDCs show Etchmiadzin Cathedral and Taj Mahal. India Post on the other hand printed both the stamps in individual sheets of 45 stamps each, along with a miniature sheet with both the stamps. Suresh Kumar Achari and Vahagn Mkrtchyan designed the stamps for their respective postal administrations.
The joint stamp show Manipuri dance from India and Hov Arek dance from Armenia. India Post had issued a stamp on Manipuri dance previously in 1975 as well. I don't like the font used on the Indian stamps and it'd not even mentioned about Hov Arek being an Armenian dance. Armenian stamps have better overall design, but they messed up the Indian Manipuri dance stamp by adding the background details even on the white portion of the stamp. Anyways, I truly hope no more dances are used for Indian joint stamps; this was the fifth one since 2006.

Hay Post issued 40,000 stamps of each design (280 Armenian Dram each), printed at Cartor Security Printing in France. Indian stamps were printed in SPP, Hyderabad (5 Rupees and 25 Rupees denomination), but print quantity details are still awaited - I will add it here once I get my hands on a brochure.
Indian miniature sheet showing two stamps from the Armenia-India joint stamp issue
Manipuri dance: This classical Indian group dance, also known as Jagoi originated in the North-Eastern state of Manipur and is based on Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism themes of Hindu religion. This traditional dance includes slow, lyrical and graceful movements to the tune of Pung (drum), kartal, harmonium, sembong, pena and flute. Lyrics are typically devotional songs using Jayadeva's, Vidyapati's or other medieval poets writings in Sanskrit, Braj or Maithili languages. The dance is also inspired heavily by Radha-Krishna Raas. Female dances dress like brides in Poltoi and  Kumil, which is a barrel-like skirt whereas male dancers wear dhotis.
Armenian stamps from the Armenia-India: Joint Issue (2018)
Hov Arek dance: Armenia's Hov Arek or Areq is performed using a lyrical folk song by the same name written by composer and priest Komitas. It is considered among the 100 most important songs in Armenian cultural heritage. I'm surprised at the choice of this dance, because it appears to be more of a song than a well known dance itself. In my opinion, Berd would have been a clear pick from the national dances of Armenia. Use the links below if you want to look at a couple of videos showing these dances.

Links to Youtube videos: Hov Arek and Manipuri

Update (07 Jul 2018): First day covers for the Indian version of this stamp have been printed and appear to depict Jagoi Manipuri dance from India and Berd from Armenia (like I had predicted in January this year). This issue has been delayed several times and the from the last update, HayPost Armenia indicated they are trying to get it done in August 2018. Let's see where this ends up. Looking forward to a good stamp design.

Update (21 Jan 2018): Just to be clear, the currently proposed date for issuance is 21st March 2018.

Original Post (17 Jan 2018): I've been trying to get details for the joint stamp issue between India and Armenia over the last year and a half. This stamp issue was discussed in bilateral meetings since 2016 and will likely materialize this year. I've been able to confirm from Haypost and India Post that the theme for this joint issue will be Dances. In the recent past, India has used dance as a subject for joint issues with Cyprus (2006), Mexico (2010), Portugal (2017) and Russia (2017). It would have been nice to see some more creativity from the India Post officials to find similarities between the two cultures and then select a subject. All these Indian dance forms can easily be commemorated on a separate set of stamps dedicated to Dances of India.

Diplomatic contact between Armenia and India were established in 1992 and the stamp issue will likely celebrate 25 years of this relationship. The joint stamp is currently scheduled for issuance in third week of March 2018, but I will confirm this as soon as additional information is available.

Possible Armenian Dance forms: Kochari, Berd or Trahag

Any guesses for Indian Dance forms?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

South Africa-India Joint Stamp Issues

Update (29 Sep 2018): A total of three joint stamp issues have now been issued between India and South Africa, possibly among the most India Post has with any country other than Russia. Two of these were released in June and July this year itself. Two of the three collaborations have also prominently featured Mahatma Gandhi, a key figure in India's freedom movement who spent his formative years in South Africa as a lawyer.
The first joint stamp issue was released in 1995, couple of years after South Africa held its democratic elections. The theme for this commemoration was closing of 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Both countries issued identical stamps, designed by Alan Ainslie and the Indian Post office. The stamps showed Gandhi as young barrister in South Africa and as Mahatma during the 20th century freedom struggle in India. Along with individual stamps, India issued a souvenir sheet containing the se-tenant stamp pair, but South Africa's miniature sheet contained only one stamp. At a later date in June 1997, South Africa issued a second souvenir sheet with the stamp that was not on the first souvenir sheet (see images below).

After a gap of 23 years, philatelic cooperation picked up again this year. Since early 2017, the Indian embassy had been planning a joint stamp issue with South Africa and I'd shared some initial plans on Twitter as well. I'd thought a set of 4 stamps showing Deendayal Upadhyaya, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo (all three birth centenaries from 2016-2018) and Mahatma Gandhi (150th birth anniversary) would be issued at once, but there were two separate issues in store.

A set of 2 stamps designed by Alka Sharma for India Post was issued in early June during the 125th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's Pietermaritzburg Station Incident. These stamps commemorated 20 years of strategic partnership and 25 years of diplomatic relations, while showing images of Deendayal Upadhyaya and Oliver Tambo on the stamps. Background image in the souvenir sheet shows national flowers of both countries (lotus and protea) along with unknown mountains. Stamps and souvenir sheets for both the countries were printed at SPP Hyderabad, and surprisingly South Africa post office is yet to receive their supplies, almost four months after actual issuance. It is not confirmed, but South Africa will likely only put souvenir sheets for sale and no individual stamps.

Deendayal Upadhyaya (1916-1968) was an eminent thinker and political leader of India's right of center ideology post-independence. He espoused the thought of integral humanism and social welfare of poor, downtrodden ('last person in line'). Even though he lived only 50 years, his philosophy left a deep impact on developing a new idea of India.

Oliver R. Tambo (1917-1993) was a socio-political leader from South Africa that led African National Congress (ANC), the foremost political organization fighting Apartheid. Tambo started his political journey in 1943 forming the youth wing of ANC. The youth wing had developed new ways of protests and was working in tandem with ANC. Tambo was appointed as the secretary of ANC in 1955, deputy president in 1958. He was then tasked to garner support from other countries and international organizations by traveling abroad. He was then appointed as acting President of ANC in 1967, and president in 1969, a position he held until 1991. For majority of his life in ANC, Tambo was working in exile, but returned to South Africa in 1990, after having spent 30 years out of his home country. He handed over the reigns of ANC to Nelson Mandela, who was eventually also elected as the first President of post-Apartheid South Africa in 1991.

The third and most recent stamp set shows Pietermaritzburg train station located near Durban in South Africa. In June 1893, Mahatma Gandhi, then Mohandas K. Gandhi, was removed from a first class train compartment due to his color and asked to moved to end of the train. The young Gandhi did not board the train and spent the night at the station waiting room. This event led to Gandhi fighting for racial equality for Indians in South Africa, eventually giving birth to Satyagraha - the concept of non-violent resistance or holding firmly to the truth using civil resistance. This year is 125th anniversary of the train station incident, and is being commemorated on the identical stamp sheets issued by both the countries.

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was also a socio-political leader from ANC like Oliver Tambo that led protests and political movement to fight Apartheid in South Africa. He started in the youth wing of ANC in 1944, going on to become its president in 1951. His struggle to abolish Apartheid took shape from 1952 onward, where he devised various plans for defying the minority white government, some actions even turning violent. After several skirmishes and arrests, Mandela was imprisoned at Robben Island from 1964 to 1982. He was transferred to other prisons until his release in February 1990, totaling to 27 years of incarceration. Immediately after release, he begins negotiations with the government to end racial discrimination and establish an equal democracy. He was elected as the first President of democratic South Africa in 1994, a position he held until 1999. Thereafter he immersed in social improvement through his foundation. He continued to remain in public life, until his passing due to ill health in late 2013. Mandela was awarded the Bharat Ratna and Nobel Peace Prize for his work in abolishing Apartheid peacefully and establishing a new democracy in South Africa.

It appears that India Post designed the June 2018 stamps (Alka Sharma), and South African artists did the July 2018 issue (Thea Clemon and Alan Ainslie). Nenu Gupta from India is also credited with the July 2018 stamps, but that's likely for adjusting the images and fonts. The basic design likely came from South Africa. These stamps have tried to commemorate so many events and personalities, it's difficult to clearly explain everything. See below for all possible reasons that I think can be cited.

List of events for 2018 India-South Africa joint stamp issues:
1. 20 Years of Strategic Partnership (1997-2017)
2. 25 Years of Diplomatic Relations (1993-2018)
3. 50 Years of Deendayal Upadhyaya's passing (1968-2018)
4. Birth Centenary of Deendayal Upadhyaya (1916-2016)
5. Birth Centenary of Oliver Reginald Tambo (1917-2017)
6. Birth Centenary of Nelson Mandela (1918-2018)
7. 125th Year of Mahatma Gandhi's Pietermaritzburg Station Incident (1893-2018)
8. 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi (1969-2019)
Latest collaboration between India & South Africa post offices for a joint stamp issue (July 2018)
Second joint stamp issue between India and South Africa (June 2018)
Joint Issue between India and South Africa issued in 1995 and another souvenir by SA Post in 1997
Update (07 Jul 2018): I will post details for all the joint stamps issued between India and South Africa here. I've previously shared - on another post and on Twitter - with fellow collectors that the two countries have been working on commemorating several personalities in 2018 and turns out there will be two joint issues in 2018 itself - one each in June and July.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

India Post Stamp Updates (Jan-Sep 2018) - Archived


Click here for the second part.

Update (01 July 2018): This was a long break of almost two months, but I will try make up for it by sharing a ton of new information that has come through during this time. This update will be in three parts, new issues in May and June, forthcoming stamp issues and lastly some trivia.

Over the last two months, a total of seven stamps were issued, some personalities and some special commemorative stamps. In May,  two personalities from Southern India - businessman M. V. Arunachalam and socio-political leader C. Kesavan were honored with India Post stamps. Stamp on Arunchalam was issued  by the Governor of Tamil Nadu and the one on Kesavan by the Governor of Kerala. The stamp on Lions Clubs Centenary was dedicated at a simple ceremony by the Vice President of India in New Delhi. All these three stamps were decently designed, not much to talk about. Early in June, Prime Minister of India released a set of stamps in 4 designs on World Environment Day. The stamp designed by Suresh Kumar Achari depict the theme, Beat Plastic Pollution. I did not really like the stamps, but some collectors seem to appreciate the artwork. My personal preference would have been to have one stamp and the miniature sheet to extend the theme beyond the stamp. The next stamp was a joint stamp issue between India and South Africa. India's Foreign Minister visited South Africa in early June and dedicated the stamps at Pietermaritzburg Railway Station, where Mahatma Gandhi was removed from a train compartment in 1893 due to racial discrimination. Two other stamps, one on Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha and Scott Christian College were issued at events in Chennai and Nagercoil, respectively. Many more stamps are planned for issuance in the remainder of this year. Details for new stamp subjects are below.

Like I had shared information for several new stamp subjects in January this year, I'm able to report that about 15 new additional have been made to India Post's stamp program for 2018. Since you're first hearing from me, don't forget to mention BetterPhilately when you use this information on other social media platforms. I've observed that many collectors have used my lists on their profiles and websites without proper mention of BetterPhilately. No meeting of the Philatelic Advisory Committee, a body that considers and recommends stamp issuance, has been held since late 2016. Thus, giving a free reign to the Minister of Communications to approve proposals that are routinely received by the Department of Posts. I don't know specific issue dates for the new stamps, but see the list below for all the additions. The stamp on Eastern Naval Command will be of Rs 15 denomination, while the one on Kakaji-Pappaji Maharaj will cost 5 Rupees. At the bottom of this post, I've been maintaining a comprehensive list of thematic and other stamps that have been approved since 2016. The newest additions are highlighted in blue, but I will incorporate these in the regular font during the next update.
Share with fellow collectors and tell them you found it on BetterPhilately
In addition to getting these stamp subjects figured out, I've been gathering other information to share as well. The main focus was to get clarity for print quantity of commemorative stamps and Mystamps and availability of stamps in post offices. There was some confusion about the print quantity of the CISF stamps from March this year. The stamp was issued as a se-tenant, but the proponent got one of the two stamps printed in sheets with only one design. I shared the details on a tweet earlier. I also found that severe delays in printing and delivery of Indian Cuisine, ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and Solar System stamp sheetlets from the Hyderabad printing press may have been because the printer was inundated with last minute requests and was unable to complete past orders. It took 3-4 months for these delays to go away, but if India Post wants to keep stamp collectors interested, this should not recur.

I've been trying to complete an accurate list of customized and personalized MyStamp issues as well as the print quantities. I will add the updated list under the MyStamp post soon. During this time, it was discovered that a set of 12 personalized MyStamp sheetlets on Zodiac Signs were printed and will be soon put for sale in post offices. Another few personalized MyStamp sheetlets on Shimla Ridge, Vaishno Devi temple and Pushkar Fair are not easily available and it would be ideal if ePostOffice starts selling these as well. 

India Post Commemorative Postage Stamps in May & June 2018:
15 May - M. V. Arunachalam
23 May - C. Kesavan
25 May - Lions Clubs International Association (Since 1917)
05 Jun - World Environment Day (4 designs)
07 Jun - India-South Africa: Joint Stamp Issue (Deendayal Upadhyaya & Oliver R. Tambo)
17 Jun - Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, Madras (100 Years)
28 Jun - Scott Christian College, Nagercoil

India Post Customized MyStamps in May & June 2018:
13 May - Shri C. U. Shah Medical College & Hospital (Gujarat)
22 May - BSF Wives' Welfare Association (Silver Jubilee)
26 May - Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Mysuru (Vishwam Museum)

Update (05 May 2018): Here's a rundown of news on Indian postage stamps from the last few weeks. India Post has not been sharing details for new stamp issue dates, but dedicating previously unannounced stamps. I will try to gather updates for fellow collectors soon and share on Twitter or over here. In the meanwhile, if you get dates or subjects for new stamps, do leave a comment below.

The stamp on DRDO Diamond Jubilee, which was originally scheduled for issuance in early January was finally dedicated on 11th April by the Defense Minister of India at a defense exposition at Mahabalipuram, near Chennai. The stamp was well designed by Kamleshwar Singh, showing various military equipment and DRDO Bhawan on a colorful background. This and other designs by Kamleshwar Singh just goes on to show the need for India Post to use talented artists like Singh.

The next stamp issue on Goan Tiatr was planned for issuance in 2017. The stamps and a miniature sheet were printed and several images were available on the internet. The stamps were likely withdrawn as result of the misspelled word 'Tiatr' as 'Tiater'. One would have assumed the stamp design to have been updated with the correct spelling and reprinted, but India Post for unknown reasons changed the designs completely and issued the new stamps along with a miniature sheet on 17th April in Panaji. The stamp information bulletin mentions Gulistaan as the stamp designer, but I'm not sure who designed the old 2017 version. The stamp printed in 2017 captured the essence of Goan theater and key personalities of Tiatr well, but the new stamps are quite simple and unappealing. Another point to note: Unlike the ICAR-CPCRI stamps from 2017/18, the Goan Tiatr stamps printed in 2017 haven't appeared online for sale.

The Prime Minister of India dedicated a commemorative stamp on Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, a political leader from Uttar Pradesh on 25th April in New Delhi to commence the birth centenary year. This stamp was among the several stamps on personalities approved for issuance in 2018. I had shared this news early in mid-January. The stamp and FDC nicely capture important facets of Bahuguna's life including his origins in the hill state of Uttarakhand.

The last two stamps in April were previously unannounced and a damp squib from a design perspective. A se-tenant of 2 stamps was dedicated on 75 years of Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi and a souvenir sheet of 4 stamps on Prithviraj Chauhan were released by MoS Communications in Ghazipur. The two stamps on Safdarjung Hospital were designed by Anuj and Ashoo Sharma, likely associated with the hospital. The stamps show several images of the past when the hospital was started as American Hospital along with an image of the main building spread on both the stamps. I wish there was come more detailed text, and better images used for developing this stamp design. I am also not entirely sure on the need for a se-tenant stamp on a hospital in New Delhi just completing 75 years of its existence. The stamp set on Prithviraj Chauhan is even more shocking. A stamp on this warrior king from Rajasthan could be developed with great detail, but the designer Alka Sharma chose to take a bust of the ruler and place it on four stamps with different background color and denomination. Little to no effort was put in covering some other facets of the king's life or rule. That said, the souvenir sheet was much better with coins and paintings shown with a picture of Taragarh Fort taken from the internet. Hoping the next stamp issues are more intricately designed and printed.

Surprisingly no news for customized or personalized MyStamp was seen throughout April, and that was a much needed breather. I've been gathering information on several blank first day covers that are reaching various philatelic bureaus for stamp issuance this year. There are no major surprises than the subjects that are already covered at end of this post as well as what I share on Twitter. It seems possible that the joint issue with South Africa could now include Nelson Mandela as well. I had previously shared that Deendayal Upadhyaya and Oliver Tambo were two of the personalities selected for the stamp issue. Including Mahatma Gandhi cannot entirely be ruled out either, given his 150th birth anniversary celebrations will begin later this year.

I've also seen that the much awaited stamp sheetlets for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and the Solar System stamp issues are available for purchase in several post offices and on ePostOffice. The ASEAN-India sheetlet set contains 11 sheets with 20 stamps each (total Rs 1100) and the Solar System sheetlet set contains 8 sheets with 25-30 stamps each (total Rs 1150). All these sheets are being sold at face value, even on ePostOffice.

India Post Commemorative Postage Stamps (April 2018)
11 Apr - Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO 60 Years)
17 Apr - Goan Tiatr 125th Anniversary (Since 1892)
25 Apr - Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna
27 Apr - Safdarjung Hospital
28 Apr - Prithviraj Chauhan

Update (14 April 2018): I've been struggling to find time for adding new information, but it will get better in the next two weeks. In the meanwhile, India Post is back to thee same tardy ways of the old. Stamp issues are being scheduled with no notice, then delayed and postponed, yet again with no clear justification. Information on several forthcoming stamps was circulated on social media and I've added that information in the approved/possible list of stamp issues at the bottom of this post.

The month of March saw one large commemorative stamp, on the eight known planets of our solar system. The stamps designed by Suresh Kumar Achari were depicted in a pattern similar to the orbits and distance from the sun. It was a decently designed stamp issue, but I wish India Post had worked with ISRO to depict images of at least earth and Mars taken by Indian space missions. The United States Postal Service has issued stamps on space exploration with actual images of planets in 1991 and 2016 in coordination with NASA. Pluto had not been explored in 1991, so the stamp on Pluto was inscribed with 'not yet explored'. By the time the next stamp on Pluto was released in 2016, NASA had reached the now dwarf planet and used an actual image with an inscription - Pluto, Explored. I digressed, but thought this was an interesting anecdote. The Indian solar system stamps were apparently printed in the form of sheetlets and miniature sheets, but the sheetlets have not been made available for purchase after almost of month of issuance. Why such delay from the printer, SPP Hyderabad? Sheetlets for ASEAN India Commemorative Summit from January 2018 haven't been put for sale either. My personal recommendation is to use CSP Kanpur and EPP Madras, the two private security printers along with the SPMCIL printing presses to print postal stamps. The private printers, especially CSP Kanpur has done some amazing work with India Post in 2001-2004 period.

Several MyStamp sheetlets was also issued or made available for sale last month. Two of these issues, on Andhra Pradesh Tourism and Kumbh Prayagraj had been known to exist since late January, but were neither dedicated at a ceremony nor sold anywhere, so I'm going to consider these issued in March 2018, since they were put on ePostOffice last month. On the note of MyStamps, editors from Linns (Amos Media) that prints Scott Catalog has recently issued a note that Scott will only assign catalog numbers to personalized MyStamp issues and not for the pre-printed customized MyStamp issues that corporate, individual or organizations can obtain from India Post (minimum 5000 sheetlets). This was an important clarification, because the cost of collecting customized MyStamps is exorbitant and philatelists may not be interested in adding these to their Republic of India collection.

India Post Commemorative Stamps in March 2018
05 Mar - Biju Patnaik (1916-2016)
08 Mar - Central Industrial Security Force (2 designs)
20 Mar - The Solar System (8 designs)

India Post Customized MyStamps in March 2018
10 Mar - Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (2 designs)
23 Mar - Hyderabad International Airport
Top 12 Tourist Destinations of Andhra Pradesh (12 designs): Tirumala Temple, Kanakdurga Temple, Vijayawada; Srisailam Temple; Gandikota-Grand Canyon; R. K. Beach, Visakhapatnam; Tribal Museum, Araku; Chrandragiri Fort; Pulicat Lake; Pavithra Sangamam; Borra Caves; Amaravati; Papikondalu
Kumbh Prayagaj

Update (18 Mar 2018): It's been quite a while since the last update. I'd been busy with work and traveling as well. A few stamps were issued in the second half of February, but no surprises as such. I'd shared information on some of these stamp subjects earlier and most of those hold true.

India and Iran jointly released a pair of stamps during the visit of the President of Iran to New Delhi on 17th February. The theme for these stamps was maritime linkage showing Deendayal Kandla and Chabahar Shahid Beheshti ports, one from each country. The stamp subject was a welcome change from the oft used dance theme. The stamp on film producer B. Nagi Reddi was the second one released in February. The Vice President of India dedicated this stamp in Chennai on the 23rd February. The third and final commemorative stamp of the month was dedicated by the Prime Minister of India to celebrate the golden jubilee of Auroville, an international township near Pondicherry (Puducherry). Though the stamp design was well received, the word Jubilee was incorrectly spelled as 'Jubliee' on the actual stamps. I've been highlighting typos in Indian stamps for almost a decade now, but to no avail. India Post should implement a proof reading team within the philately department and hold the stamp designer and other staff accountable for such silly errors.

Early in March, a stamp on Biju Patnaik (5th March) and the CISF golden jubilee were also issued in Bhubaneswar and New Delhi respectively. The Biju Patnaik stamp design was pretty similar to the one issued in 1999. Brahm Prakash designed this stamp and I'm curious why the inscription 1916-2016 was necessary on the stamp released in 2018. It may be understood by some ardent followers of Biju Patnaik that his birth centenary was celebrated in 2016, but makes no sense from a design perspective. There may have been delay in realizing the political value in issuing this stamp, but the art work could have been updated to '1916-1997', showing the late leader's lifespan. Kamleshwar Singh came to India Post's rescue though. He designed a beautiful se-tenant of stamps on the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) that was issued on 8th March during the 49th raising day celebration in New Delhi. It's among some of the best stamp designs issued in the recent past.

A couple of MyStamp sheetlets were also issued in the last few weeks. The first one on Kalinga Institute of Technology was issued in Bhubaneswar and another one the famous Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai was also put on sale sometime in February. I'm surprised with the Mumbai temple MyStamp issuance because when I tried to purchase this sheetlet in Mumbai in the last week of February, the staff at Mumbai GPO was unaware of its sale. Hopefully it will be made available for purchase soon.

India Post Commemorative Stamps in February 2018
17 Feb - India-Iran Joint Issue (Deendayal Kandla & Chabahar Ports)
23 Feb - B. Nagi Reddi
25 Feb - Auroville International Township (Golden Jubilee)

India Post MyStamps in February 2018
16 Feb - Kalinga Institute of Technology (KIIT)
Shree Siddhivinayak Ganesh Temple, Prabhadevi, Mumbai

Update (11 Feb 2018): The first month of the new year was fairly decent. India Post issued five stamps in January, several thematic/commemorative stamps and one personality. Most of these stamps were dedicated in the last week of January. The first one was a joint issue between India and Vietnam, which was dedicated in New Delhi on 25th January by India Post and Vietnam Post officials. I've already posted a separate post (click here to read) for this joint issue, which showed Buddhist monuments from both countries. That same day, India's Prime Minister along with Heads of State/Government from 10 ASEAN countries dedicated a set of stamps with 11 designs during the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit 2018 in New Delhi. I am planning to write a separate blog post for this stamp issue, which was prepared by one of my favorite stamp designers, Sankha Samanta. The next stamp issue on Potter's Wheel was put on sale on ePostOffice on 26th January. This stamp issue, as has been the trend for last several years was crowdsourced. These stamps were issued in two designs with a miniature sheet. 

Even though some of the stamps were properly designed, majority of the stamp stocks haven't yet made it to the post offices. India Post's ePostOffice has been selling some of the stamps, but first day covers and brochures have seen excessive delays. Delivery of online stamp orders from ePostOffice is also slowing down, with most packets taking 4-5 weeks to reach collectors. India Post boasts of a huge network of transport and postal carriers, and if ePostOffice has to show improved growth, both the website and the actual delivery time needs to be significantly improved.

The final stamp in January on Dr. Talimeren Ao was simultaneously dedicated in Guwahati (Assam) and Kohima (Nagaland) on 28th January by the Governors of both the state. Dr. Talimeren Ao, born in 1918 was India's soccer team captain in 1948 London Olympics and a civil surgeon.

I've been able to confirm one of the MyStamp sheetlets on Akshar Deri, Gondal of Swaminarayan organization, but not the others. If any of you come across other MyStamp sheetlets listed below, let me know. I will wait for release events or special covers etc. to finalize the issue dates for these MyStamp sheetlets.

India Post Commemorative Stamps in January 2018:
08 Jan - ICAR-CPCRI (2 designs)
25 Jan - India-Vietnam Joint Issue (Sanchi Stupa & Pho Minh Pagoda)
25 Jan - ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit 2018 (11 designs)
26 Jan - Potter's Wheel (Republic Day 2018; 2 designs)
28 Jan - Dr. Talimeren Ao

India Post MyStamps in January 2018:
22 Jan - MyStamp - Akshar Deri, Gondal
MyStamp - Andhra Pradesh Tourism
MyStamp - Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai
MyStamp - Kumbh Prayagraj

Update (20 Jan 2018): Like I'd said in the last update, I can share details for personalities that will be honored with India Post stamps in 2018. Some of these are carry over from 2016-17 and I'm hoping these get issued finally. Some other details, especially for joint issue stamps are evolving fast. It's likely that joint issue stamps with Armenia, Vietnam and Serbia will be issued this year along with South Africa. I may end up writing a new blog post to track all joint issues with India. For now, I've updated the lists below. There are three ways I'm tracking stamp subjects - approved stamp issues, possible stamps and BetterPhilately wish list. 

The next stamp issues will likely be around the Republic Day on 26th January, which is when the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit is also being held. Heads of State/Government from all 10 ASEAN countries are visiting India as chief guests for the Republic Day parade, an honor reserved for close friends of the Indian State. A set of 10-11 stamps, showing cultural connect with each country will be issued. I made a list of some things that link India with the ASEAN countries (click here to see on Twitter). It's possible that these could be depicted on the stamps, let's see.

I've also been reading on social media that the joint issue with Vietnam will be dedicated sometime next week as well. Like you may have seen, I've already confirmed the proposed date for the Armenia-India joint issue as 21st March 2018 with a theme of dances in another blog post. Serbia also announced that a joint issue with India will be issued on 09th October.

Update (16 Jan 2018): I've been sharing details for stamp subjects on the blog and on Twitter, which can be used from 2017-2022 to develop a good issue program. Some of the subjects are nearing their anniversary events and will likely be commemorated with postal stamps. Take a look at the list below. I will soon share additional details for some personalities that are likely to be on India Post stamps this year as well. Like always, do mention BetterPhilately in conversations on social media using #BetterPhila.
Possible India Post stamp issues (2018).
Update (15 Jan 2018): We are still waiting on details for stamps to be issued in 2018, but the year began with the first release on 08th January. Last year, two stamps viz. ICAR-Central Plantation Crops Research Institute and Goa Tiatr (125th anniversary) were printed, but never put for sale. It appeared that India Post took cognizance of the typos on both the stamps. Like I had pointed out on the Twitter feed, ICAR-CPCRI stamp had an error in the Hindi acronym of ICAR, and the Goan Tiatr stamp spelled 'Tiatr' incorrectly as 'Tiater'. The ICAR-CPCRI stamp was re-printed with minor design changes and issued in Kasargod earlier this month. The Union Cabinet Minister for Statistics and Program Implementation was present along with postal officials and institute staff. The interesting piece is that copies of the old stamp (with 2017 year printed) are being sold for $40 or Rupees 7500 on eBay. I wonder how many of these old stamps slipped out illegally. I've posted images of both the 2017 and 2018 stamps below.

In other news, it appears that a stamp (possibly, on Ramayana) will be issued on 25th January, during the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in New Delhi. India and South East Asian countries have a lot of common cultural aspect, Ramayana being one of them.

Possible Stamp Issues
Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) - 60 Years
India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit (Ramayana)
ICAR-CPCRI (Central Plantation Crops Research Institute) - New stamp from 2018 (above) and the old print from 2017 (below). There are minor design differences in the two sheets.
Original Post (27 Dec 2017): I will start posting details for possible stamp issues and other updates for 2018 in a few weeks, but I'm carrying over several stamp subjects that were either or approved or considered for issuance and could be released in 2018. Let me know if you have other details to share with fellow stamp collectors. Happy New Year!

BetterPhilately Wish List
Amritlal Nagar
B. D. Jatti
Balasaheb Thackarey
Balasheb Deoras
Bhairon Singh Shekhawat
Chinmayananda Saraswati
Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy
Eknath Ranade
Gopal Swarup Pathak
Guru Nanak Dev - 550th Parkash Utsav
I. K. Gujral
J. Jayalalithaa
K. R. Narayanan
Khushabhau Thakre
Laxmanrao Inamdar
Mohammad Hidayatullah
N. Sanjeeva Reddy
Nelson Mandela
P. V. Narasimha Rao
Shivmangal Singh Suman
Siyaram Sharan Gupt
Srimant Sankardev
Swami Abhedananda
Swami Karpatri
V. P. Singh

19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche
Air Force Marshal Arjan Singh
Amrita Pritam
B. K. S. Iyengar
Chandrakant Patel
Dhanraj Bhagat
L. L. Narayan
Maharani Gayatri Devi
Maharshi Mahesh Yogi
Maniram Dewan
Queen Heo Hwang-ok (Korean queen from Ayodhya)
Ramamand Sagar
Sikander Bakht
Sudhir Phadke
Vinda Karandikar

100 Years of Kheda Movement
100 Years of Sabarmati Ashram
150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
50 Years of Commercial Nuclear Power - Tarapur
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
Bose Institute
Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
High Court of Punjab & Haryana Centenary
International Film Festival of India (Golden Jubilee)
Joint Issue Stamps with India: Bulgaria, Serbia, South Korea & UN
Jyotirlinga Temples
ISRO - Golden Jubilee (Magalyaan and Chandrayan)
Osmania University, Hyderabard (100 Years) - MyStamp
Rajkumar School, Rajkot
Ravenshaw University, Cuttack (150 Years) - MyStamp
Sherwood College, Nainital
The Maihar Band (100 Years)
The Yoga Institute, Mumbai (100 Years)

Stamps Approved for Issuance
Thematic Issues
Birds: Endangered & Critically Endangered
Boats of India
Bridal Costumes of India
Four Dhamas (Char Dham)
Fragrant Stamps (Chocolate, Strawberry)
Historical Gates of Indian Forts
India’s Participation in World War I
Indian Fashion Industry
Indian Perfume
Jataka Tales
Mehandi (Lawsona inermis)
Minerals of India
Musical Instruments (Chimta, Dotara, Ektara, Khartal, Tumbi)
Palace on Wheels
Shaktipeeth Temples (Kalighat, Kamkhya, Meenakshi, Vaishno Devi)
Terracotta Temples of India
Traditional Embroideries of India
Tribes of India
UNESCO Heritage Sites
Wildlife – Flora & Fauna

Other Issues
Aga Khan  Foundation
Children's Day - Communal Harmony
Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (60 Years)
Eastern Naval Command (50 Years)
HMS Minden & HMS Trincomalee (1810-1811)
Induction of Pilatus PC-7 Mk II
Paika Rebellion (200 Years)
University of Mysore

Acharya Bodhihdharma & Efflorescence of Zen Culture
Acharya Konda Laxman Bapuji
Dr. B. P. Radhakrishna
Gaurishankar Govardhan Joshi 'Dhumketu'
Girdharilal Bhargava
Kakaji & Pappaji Maharaj
Lala Thunthee Mull
Maharaja Suheldev
M. Balamuralikrishna
Rajkumar Shukla
Raja Todarmal
Sabri Khan Sahib
Sant Pipaji Maharaj
Vedanta Desikan

Stamps from Approved List or BetterPhilately List issued in 2018
Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (ICAR)
India-Vietnam: Joint Issue
ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit 2018
Dr. Talimeren Ao
Republic Day (Potter's Wheel)
Auroville (Golden Jubilee)
B. Nagi Reddi
CISF - Central Industrial Security Force
Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO)
Solar System
Goan Tiatr
Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna
M. V. Arunachalam
C. Kesavan
Lions Clubs International Centenary
India-South Africa: Joint Issue (Deendayal Upadhyaya & Oliver R. Tambo)
Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha
M. L. Vasanthakumari
Chapekar Brothers (Damodar Hari Chapakar)
MyStamp - Shilma Ridge
MyStamp - Zodiac Signs (12 designs)
Indian Handloom Production (Geographical Indicators registered)
Mahadevappa Mailara
Patna University (1917-2017)
India-Armenia: Joint Issue
Independence Day - Holiday Destinations in India
Hislop College, Nagpur
Sant Ganinath