BRIEF POSTAL HISTORY OF INDIA
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
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 1866 the postage stamps for government mail were introduced by overprinting ?Service? on ordinary postage stamps.
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