22, Issue # 81 - September 5, 2002
As part of its agenda to promote philately the Philatelic Congress of India (PCI) has published the following books to date, yet they seem to have a hidden agenda behind the publication of these books:
Hyderabad Philatelic History by Dr. M A Nayeem
Diary of Stephen Smith by D N Jatia
Postal Censorship in India 1939-1945 by Brigadier D S Virk
Bibliography - Indian Philately
Sikkim-Tibet 1903-1908 by Brigadier D S Virk
The China Expeditionary Force 1900-1923 by Brig. D S Virk et el
The Classics of India by G B Pai
A Collection of the Catalogs, Statutes, & Notices. . .by G B Pai
India Bicolored Four Anna Stamps by D N Jatia
Diaries of W T Van Sommeren & A B Thompson by D N Jatia
Each of these books has a story of its own. But they have one thing in common.
Till date, except a few, most of the members of the PCI do not now the number of copies that were actually printed. Hence the sale proceeds of substantial part of several of these books have been pocketed by a privileged few, especially in case of sales abroad.
In January 1980 the PCI published its first two books - Philatelic History of Hyderabad, and Diary of Stephen Smith these were printed at Indraprastha Press, New Delhi that is a division of the Children's Book Trust (CBT). The then Secretary General of PCI, S P Chatterjea was the General Manager of the CBT and attempted to print these for free, was caught, made to pay, and eventually lost his job on this issue. Chatterjea, a former Chief of philately at India Post was later appointed as the President of PCI.
'Hyderabad' was awarded a Gold medal at 'India-80' the first FIP show in India although it didn't even had an index! It was a rehash of the author's earlier books on the subject. D N Jatia assumed the authorship of the excerpts from the diary of the rocket-mail pioneer Stephen Smith. The original diary was owned by P Gupta of Kolkata. It is said that Jatia desperately needed a book to his credit in order to fulfill the criterion to obtain the Fellowship of the Royal Philatelic Society, London.
'Postal Censorship in India' was again printed for free. The book was serialized in the PCI quarterly Signet, and at the time of printing the magazine the extra quantity of the serialized parts was printed and eventually made up as a book.
'Bibliography' was being worked on by Chaterjea for Jatia for nearly 10 years and was literally abandoned and published in its unfinished form anonymously. It is not a bibliography at all but is an index of articles on Indian philately and thus should not have been titled as a bibliography in the first place.
The books on Indian Military Campaigns, Sikkim-Tibet, China Expeditionary Force (CEF), and CEF Diaries have been best sellers because Jatia used his position as FIP President to force sell these books published in English to even non-English speaking nations in quantity. Philatelic leaders of these countries mistakenly thought that he is pushing hard for raising funds for his country's philatelic organization. They never suspected that all this was for personal financial gains. All hardbound copies of the CEF book were under absolute control of Jatia who personally sold them abroad at cover price for foreign market that used to be several times the cover price for India.
Mahohar Lal who lent items for illustration purposes from his Gold winning exhibit for the CEF book was shocked to find the same returned to him mutilated. Jatia has been to pick-up information and items on the pretext of using them for research and publication, and not returning these at all or in mutilated condition.
Gerald Sattin, an acknowledged expert, co-author and co-editor wrote in the 'Letters to Editor' in May 2002 issue of India Post on CEF diaries.
Sattin had written, a year ago in August 2001, to Damyanti Pittie, PCI Vice President & Treasurer on the same subject. This, such a serious matter, has not even been put up on the agenda of any of the PCI meetings held since then.
The letter serves as errata amongst other things.
Manik Jain, a PCI Governing Council member was given the job of coordinating the printing of CEF diaries. We can say from personal knowledge that Jatia on our insistence had come around to printing a facsimile where proof reading wouldn't have been required. However Jain was hell bent on producing it by recomposing and after the death of Jatia there was no one to stop him.
It is still not known who approved the exorbitant production costs and absurdly low sale price of this book. A deep throat informed that the low price was fixed to facilitate cornering of the entire stock and then reselling at whatever the market could bear. In fact no one seems to know, once again, the number of copies that have been printed, as is the norm with all PCI publications.
The copyright of these diaries remains with India Post that appears not to have been consulted or taken in to confidence and certainly have never granted the permission for reprint.
In the year 1997, the senior most philatelist G B Pai authored and produced two books at his own cost and gifted 500 copies each to PCI for free. These books published in the name of PCI have never been properly marketed, never even listed in Signet. One of the reasons sited was that these books overshadow Jatia's book on 4 Annas.
In addition, the books published by the Army Postal Service at their expense were obtained by the PCI on credit. Whether, when, and how-much Army Postal Service received from PCI shall certainly be interesting to find out.