From the issues of Stamps of India Collectors Companion

Part 21, Issue # 80 - August 29, 2002

This time we present the views of readers who have commented on this ongoing column:

I would like to let you know that I certainly support your efforts in detailing the deeds, and misdeeds, of those involved in the world of stamp exhibitions. I find it unbelievable and a black blot on our hobby.

You are doing a great job at exposing some of the failures within Indian philately and in particular the shortcomings of the PCI. There is much to be disclosed about the failings of Indian philately and who has been responsible for neglecting to guide the Indian philatelists in the right direction and for what purpose.

It seems to me that the PCI has been offering the so-called leading lights of Indian philately an ego trip for many years. I have felt for a long time that young and keen Indian philatelists have been let down by some of their leaders who, instead of giving them guidance, have exploited them for personal gain and self aggrandizement. But more about that at another time.

Just so that you should know my credentials, I have collected Indian stamps and postal history for more than fifty years. I am at present 75 years old and have a reasonably good memory. I have in my time been awarded medals on subjects of India in international competition:- silver, silver-gilt (INDIPEX 73), gold (London 1980), and finally Large Gold INDIA 80, PHILEXFRANCE 82, BANGKOK 83, PHILAKOREA 84, AMERIPEX 86, and STOCKHOLMIA 86. I have also exhibited in Championship Class with my Indian collections and Court of Honour in Australia.

I was invited by the PCI, together with my great friend, the late Brigadier Diljit Virk, to write a series of books on Indian military campaigns. I assembled a 'whose who' array of specialist collectors to help us including my friend DR WOLFGANG HELLRIGL, who had deep knowledge on Tibet.

Diljit came across the Post Office records, the weekly diaries of the Chief Postal Officer of the Tibet Mission Force. This was the famous YOUNGHUSBAND EXPEDITIONARY FORCE to Tibet. In consequence, we decided this was the first book to embark upon in the military campaign series and its was titled "SIKKIM TIBET 1903-1908". It was published by the PCI in 1989.

Until then, the only serious study of Younghusband's Expedition to Tibet was that of Mr. A. C. Waterfall who wrote in 1966 "The postal history of Tibet" and which was now missing much new information Diljit had uncovered. 

Brigadier Virk wrote the book, which I edited, and Dr Hellrigl provided us with the drawings of the various offices employed. The book was the definitive work on the Expedition yet virtually no-one knows of its existence. The PCI failed us on the first count! Whenever there are references at auction to any of the field post offices employed during the expedition, it is always A.C.Waterfall who is mentioned! Why? Because the PCI failed to promote the very book they had sponsored and over which they had complete control of its distribution. Perhaps it was not worth the effort!!

I feel one should be examining the conduct of some of the leaders of the PCI at that time, and since. Especially the one who wrote the Foreword to SIKKIM-TIBET 1903-1908, and who eventually took upon himself the copyright of the recent book "Diaries of W. T. Van Sommeren and A. B. Thompson" about the China Expeditionary Force, which was the 'word for word' printing of the very diaries Diljit Virk had found in the Delhi Archives. But more about this on another occasion

AVINASH B. JAGTAP from Switzerland
Since I have been away from India for forty years and have never exhibited on behalf of India, I have no idea about the rules and regulations as per Indian Antiquities & Art Treasures Act 1972, by which the Indian commissioners have to abide themselves. I believe that such regulation is not there in any other country and the exhibitors can show such rare pieces in their displays. Naturally it has to go through custom channels (of both countries). Some countries also demand photocopies of the displays. One believes in goodwill of the exhibitor and it is taken for granted that none of the materials will be sold when taken out of that country. I do not know how long it takes to obtain a tentative export certificate for some items in a display, where one has to apply and how much one has to pay for such certificate. It is expected that the Indian commissioner nominated for a certain foreign exhibition must know the rules and regulations as regards export of such displays from India. If he obtains such requisite permissions from ASI for a few participating displays and does not bother to obtain similar permissions for other exhibits (because they were submitted in the last minute?). Then it is certainly objectionable and the fault lies with the commissioner. As he should deny carrying any exhibit that is not properly insured, he should also reject to carry any exhibit without proper export permit as laid down by the Indian law. We should be proud for the medals and merits secured at International Exhibitions; but we must also observe the laws laid down by our Government.


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