31, Issue # 90 - November 7, 2002
PHILATELY IN TRANSITION IN INDIA, Part 31
Gerald Sattin FRPSL from UK is a well-respected name in the philatelic world and we are proud and consider it a privilege to have contributions from him in this newsletter.
Sattin has been a collector of Indian postal history for over fifty years and has won Silver, Vermeil at INDIPEX 73, Gold at LONDON 1980, and finally Large Gold at INDIA 80, PHILEX FRANCE 82, BANGKOK 83, PHILAKOREA 84, AMERIPEX 86, and STOCKHOLMIA 86. He also has exhibited in FIP Championship Class with 'Campaign Mails Of India To 1908' and was twice nominated for the Grand Prix d'Honneur. He was invited to display this exhibit in the Court of Honour in Australia.
His current collection is "The Soldiers Privilege Rates of the British Empire to 1898" which is again in international competitions but not in an FIP exhibition, by choice. The collection includes the whole story of the soldiers postal history of India to 1898. 'Soldiers' by the way, does not include officers or sailors.
Sattin edited and contributed with Brigadier Virk and others on a series of books on Indian Campaigns published by the PCI. He is always willing to share his knowledge about the Indian military postal history upto 1908.
"I was so pleased to read in your 'views & opinions' of Dipok Dey's reaction to an FIP sponsored exhibition.
There is certainly no justification for FIP to charge India $500,000 for the so-called benefit of having their sponsorship. This, of course, is a legacy of Mr. D. N. Jatia when he was the 'leading light' in Indian philately.
When DN first came to prominence in 1973, he had attained his FIP Grand Prix National award with the help of his 'guru' who I believe was a Mr. Gupta. It was said at the time that Jatia would buy nothing without first seeking Mr Gupta's approval. This became particularly evident when DN was invited to talk to the India Study Circle in London while he was on a trip to England. His specialty was the four-anna lithographed stamps. He read from notes and came over well. I was in the audience at that time as I collected the stamps of India as well as India used abroad on cover. What Jatia did not realise was, that after his talk he would be invited to answer questions and at this he fell apart. Mr. Gupta was nowhere in sight to provide the answers!!
[This guru was J N Sengupta and Jatia dedicated his 4 annas book to him. Jatia never got any FIP Grand Prix and the 1973 show in New Delhi was not FIP patronized. Mary Ann Owens from USA who visited this show as an exhibitor says that the Jury combined Jatia's several exhibits in the various classes to give him Grand Prix National!!! - Editors]
It was then that I began to realise that our friendly Mr Jatia was no expert and in fact his knowledge was very limited. Nonetheless, because he had just won the Grand Prix for his exhibit, he was considered in India to be a great collector and an expert on the subject of Indian stamps.
Jatia told me at the time that he was disappointed there were so few Indian exhibitors at International Exhibitions. It was not long before many Indian collectors were exhibiting internationally. I wondered where had these collectors been hiding themselves. I was then told that Jatia had arranged for a reduction in the level of marking at national level competitions in order that more Indian collectors could win their large vermeil medals in order to compete internationally. I had heard that Jatia had told many of these collectors they would win good awards at the FIP competitions. Sadly, few did and most received a bronze medal or just simply a certificate of participation. Competing in Internationals is a serious business and many jurors saw the poor quality of the Indian exhibits, which were marked down accordingly. In this way India lost many rising collectors whose aspirations had been dashed and who became disillusioned with the hobby.
It is sad but few if any of the more serious Indian collectors have helped those at the bottom of the ladder to learn and improve their knowledge. For some, who have a deep pocket, it is just a question of buying material in order to win the higher medals without the knowledge to go with. For the majority, they are usually exploited by many Indian dealers because they do not have the knowledge or experience to know what to buy and what is a reasonable price to pay. I know of one person who had been sold a cover by a well-known collector, which was an obvious fake when you looked at it closely. That person won a large vermeil at an International competition where the jurors were mainly Indian.
[We are reminded of a scene we witnessed at INDEPEX 97 at New Delhi. An international Jury was in great demand by Indian exhibitors for critique as he is very knowledgeable on India and Princely States. He pointed out a fake cover in an exhibit to the exhibitor. The exhibitor wanted the opinion on another similar cover in the same exhibit and the Juror declared that also a forgery. The Juror went on to explain how to identify the forged ones from the genuine. However the exasperated exhibitor exclaimed how it could be as these were bought from an Indian expert who also was a Juror at INDEPEX 97 and has been President of PCI!!! - Editor]
In my opinion there are very few jurors provided from India that have more than a superficial knowledge about Indian stamps and postal history and should never have been made jurors in the first place. To me it has always looked like 'jobs for the boys' and no-one prepared to answer back to Mr. Jatia.!!
India now has a golden opportunity to sweep away all this corrupt patronage now that DN has passed away. It is time that those who DO know about Indian philately and postal history, even if they live outside India, are invited to take part as representatives of Indian philately, to act as jurors with knowledge, and to help in building a nucleus of good Indian collectors to develop the hobby in India to a more serious level so that knowledge can be put on a firmer base to be passed on to future collectors.
[A friend once told us a clerihew about Robert Clive which, seems equally suited to Jatia:
The best thing about Lord Clive
Is that he's no longer alive.
There's a great deal to be said
For being dead.]