by Madhukar and Savita Jhingan

Inspired by the visit of the famous British physicist Stephen Hawkins to New Delhi recently we wrote two articles ? ?A Brief Postal History Of India? and ?A Brief Postal History Of India?. These are of a new type of writing. The articles are not quite finished and taking the advantage of new technologies we will keep on revising and updating it. We invite all our readers to participate in writing and revising these.

Since time immemorial the Kings have maintained channels of Communications for their exclusive use, for receiving and sending the news of political and economic importance. The earliest references to transmission to messages are found in the sacred lore in the ancient scriptures of India. The earliest of these is in the ?Atharva Veda?, one of the four Vedas ? the supreme and the first scripture. Later Ramayana and Mahabharata, two of the greatest epic, mention of the transmission of messages.

A large establishment for the transmission of messages is recorded for Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta in 322 BC. Ibn Batuta, the Moroccan traveler to India in 1310 AD had detailed the mail system of Sulatn Mohammed bin Tughlaq. Massive reorganization of this system took place under Sher Shah Suri. It was developed and maintained under the Mogul and later rulers.

The traders, whom the rulers allowed the use of royal mail at times, felt the need for regular message service as the first priority of royal mail could be for the rulers only. Big traders have known to operate postal services from 14th century AD that also accepted mail from others for a fee. During 17th century AD several postal systems under the patronage of various rulers and traders were in vogue. The East India Company first used these services for exchange of mail between their trading centers in India.

The Company decided to setup their own postal service ?Company Dawk? in view of the increasing trade activity and their requirement of intelligence of military nature. In 1688 the first post office of the Company Post was established at Bombay/Madras. Lord Robert Clive, the Governor of Bengal in his second term, ordered for ?better regulations of the dawks? in 1766. Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of Bengal with supervisory powers over Bombay and Madras, reorganized the system and opened the service to public in 1774. A Postmaster General was appointed and metal tickets or tokens were issued to pay for the postal charges.

The presidencies of Bombay and Madras followed suit.

In 1835 a Committee was set up for unification of customs and postal system of all the presidencies. The result was the first Indian Post Office Act of 1837. It not only provided for uniform rates and routes but for the uniform designs and other specifications of the postmarks for each category of post office.

A Commission was setup in 1850 and submitted its report in 1851 that resulted in the post office act of 1854.  It took three years primarily due to one of the recommendations of the Commission for introduction of adhesive postage stamps as the Company insisted on producing the stamps in India and Indian authorities wanted it printed in England. Under the provisions of this act the monopoly of carrying mail in entire area of British possessions in India were granted to Indian Post office and office of the Director General of Post Offices of India was established. Mr. H P A B Riddle, till then the Postmaster General of North West Presidency, was appointed the first Director General in May 1854. The adhesive stamps were introduced on October 1, 1854 on all India basis.  Meanwhile in 1852 adhesive postage stamps were issued for use within the province of Sind, now in Pakistan. These were the first adhesive postage stamps in Asia.

In 1866 the postage stamps for government mail were introduced by overprinting ?Service? on ordinary postage stamps.

To be continued.....







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