From the issues of Stamps of India Collectors Companion

Part 54, Issue # 113 - April 24, 2003

Following is an excerpt from the letter by national commissioner for BANGKOK 2003 world philatelic exhibition, Dr. R S Gandhi that he recently sent to participants:

"Regrettably it is now open secret that the Department of Posts (DoP) has adopted an indifferent attitude towards philately and PCI."

"More than 9 months has elapsed since my request dated July 24, 2002 for no objection certificate. Despite my two reminders & personal meeting with the Deputy Director General (Philately), the DoP has not forwarded mandatory no objection certificate to the HRD Ministry, Government of India as yet for clearance of items of 99 or more years old by the Archaeological Survey of India."

"Finding no way out, the undersigned wrote to (1) the Secretary to Government of India in the Department of Posts & Director General of India Posts and (2) Prime Minister of India and their reply is awaited."

"The Law of the Land forbidden to take away items of 99 or more years old outside the country without the permission of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)."

"The negative approach of some of our friends / brother in philately is well known and their whimsical & continued unfriendly hurdles during & after the PHILAKOREA 2002 event is forewarning."

"Accordingly I have been advised to be very conscious & careful on the matter of your exhibit and a way out is to modify and re-adjust the exhibit as not to include such philatelic items suspected to come under the ambit of ASI."

The procedure involved for participation of exhibits in international exhibitions is as follows:
PCI governing council appoints the national commissioners for all exhibitions to be held in a year. Accordingly the PCI secretary general confirms in writing to exhibition organizing committee, India Post, and to the appointed person. The commissioner on the basis of PCI general secretary's letter obtains a certificate from India Post. This 'Letter of Appointment of the National Commissioner by the Department of Posts, Government of India' (that Dr. Gandhi misleadingly is calling 'no objection certificate') is the key document that forms the basis of the permits from the Department of Culture, Reserve Bank of India, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and Indian Customs.

The participants are also required to sign a letter of authority in favor of commissioner and also an indemnity bond, both on stamp paper, absolving the commissioners from most responsibilities in case of mishaps.

The PCI also allows, but only to certain privileged commissioners to charge the participants expenses that at times are higher than the frame fees. This way the appointment as commissioner becomes an all expenses paid jaunt and opportunity to enjoy a foreign trip. A less privileged commissioner will have strictures passed against him for charging the expenses he may have actually incurred and debarred from future such appointments by the PCI governing council.

Dr. Gandhi, would fall under the privileged category, he is one of the PCI vice-presidents and is the first person ever to be appointed as an apprentice jury, at INPEX 2002 that was recently held, without the PCI governing council decision. The organizers claimed this exhibition as a national and a success. The organizers have a history of fraudulently claiming India Post's patronage and several other things for almost a year. They were forced to hastily withdraw a few of such claims from their web site after India Post sent them a notice. It is another matter that a visitor to this show reported less then 100 persons attending including organizers, jury, exhibitors, volunteers, visitors, and pigeons!

At present all government departments have been alerted and will not tolerate violations of the law of the land. The problem is not limited to obtaining certificate from India Post or permit in respect of material 100 year old form ASI as Dr. Gandhi will like participants to believe but that of following the procedures required by the law of the land in respect to several other mandatory permits.

In our opinion in these uncertain times of no exhibits going to HAFNIA 2001, exhibits confiscated on return from PHILAKOREA 2002, and no permissions as yet obtained for BANGKOK 2003, the participants must now seek suitable undertakings from the commissioners for well being of their exhibits.

We have full faith in the analytical capabilities of the participants from India in philatelic exhibitions abroad. We ask them to verify the contents of our publication and PCI's misinformation campaign. It will help them to decide on the best course of action that they need to take.

Those philatelists who seek long term well being of philately in India must resist the temptation of the immediate or short term personal gains, in this case participating abroad.

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