From the issues of Stamps of India Collectors Companion

Part 55, Issue # 114 - May 1, 2003

The combined issue of Signet, the quarterly journal of the Philatelic Congress of India (PCI), from October 2002 to March 2003 (six months) recently arrived and was reported in issue # 112 of April 17, 2003. Being longtime users of computers we firmly believe in the adage 'garbage in garbage out' and the garbage dished out by Sahdev Sahoo in his editorials does not deserve our comments. However we comment on the same, rather reluctantly, in the interest of philately in India.

We have been told that Sahoo is a writer of fiction in Oriya and it appears that through Signet he is trying his hand at fiction in English. We are now convinced that this publication from reporting the philately activities in India and original research on Indian Philately has become a pack of lies. In the issue dated April-June 2002 where Sahoo began his editorial with a line about 'animalistic self-aggrandizement' (whatever that may be) and then fills up space by reproducing from American Philatelist where Bob Lamb, the Executive Director of American Philatelic Society's (APS), talks about USPS relationship with collectors, members rigging auctions, procedure to deal with complaints against members.

Philatelists the world over will agree that no comparison can be made between the APS and the PCI when it comes to openness and observing democratic norms. While APS has openly dealt with the unpleasant task of its members caught rigging auctions or other crimes on several earlier occasions, the PCI has not taken any action against its members who were caught by police in fake stamp scam. Instead such persons have been on the governing council of PCI and senior PCI office bearers have patronized such persons.

The publication of lies regarding the court case against PCI in the issue dated Jul-Sep 2002 caused contempt of court and proceedings in this regard are going on. Sahoo opened his editorial by calling a hate site and compared it to hate sites in Pakistan and elsewhere operated by Muslim fundamentalists and closed with a quote from the bible 'O Lord, forgive him for he knows not what he is doing'. For good measure he in between inappropriately mentions the 'Shreemad Bhagwat", one of the sacred scriptures for Hindus, in the true spirit of secularism, shall we say.

Sahoo begins his editorial in the current combined issue by singing the success of the so-called national that he had recently organized. As always he has his facts wrong. He mentions that a national exhibition is held in private sector for the first time. We would like to inform him that many exhibitions including several nationals since 1894 till 1970 were held in private sector. The last national organized by the private sector was held in 1972 under the chairmanship of S P Luiz who has a yet unsurpassed record for an Indian philatelist - 17 medals in one year.

Sahoo then goes on to say that the exhibition was organized without a single paisa contribution in money or manpower of the Department of Post or the nation. However the advertisements by the Orissa state government owned corporations in the exhibition souvenir belie his claim.

Thereafter Sahoo poses a question, 'Can DOP (read India Post) think of its profit without philately?' We would like Sahoo to disclose how through philately Sahoo can, not only cover the annual loss of over Rs.14 billion for the year ending March 31, 2002 but turn a profit for India Post.

He goes on to falsely accuse India Post for not wanting to hold exhibitions whereas India Post has held hundreds of exhibitions every year. Sahoo personally had benefited from some of these being a jury at two such exhibitions in last one year alone that were fully organized and funded by India Post.

He refers to India Post's web site publishing clarification of their stand vis-?vis the so-called national but has no guts to mention that the exhibition's web site had contents that in India Post's opinion were causing 'criminal offense'. Sahoo abused the trust reposed in him by India Post by falsely claiming for nearly the entire year of 2002 that the exhibition is patronized by India Post, names of several high ranking officers of India Post were shown as members of the organizing committee without their consent, and that India Post will issue a set of 4 stamps and a miniature sheet on the occasion.

We are amazed with the amount of India Post bashing Sahoo indulges in. The reason Jatia hoisted Sahoo as President of PCI was because he was told that Sahoo being a government servant knows the working of the government and shall be able to foster closer ties with India Post.

Further on lacking the courage to name the persons, he obliquely refers to two members of PCI who have a private axe to grind and want to have control over PCI without following democratic procedure. The identity of the two PCI members created maximum commotion and raised most laughs as every one came out with his own selection of two favorite names. The use of the 'control' befittingly describes the mentality of those who have been having control of PCI since inception and on whose behest Sahoo has to write this garbage. The organization which had the history of completing the election process in less than 30 seconds is now talking about democratic procedure. It is a change for better if they mean what they say.

Sahoo then gets into a whining mode and says that India Post wanted to be a part of the last recognized national in 2001 , INPEX EMPIREPEX, and monopolized the key positions 'though it was not wholly government sponsored exhibition'. We fail to understand the point Sahoo is harping on. In the last national even the name of the exhibition was changed by India Post who spent nearly Rs.1 million on it. In case Sahoo had a problem with India Post nominees as key persons in the exhibition then what he, as PCI president, was doing when this was done? These nominations still did not stop the mischief in the jury room by those who treat Indian philately as their personal property. The awards of the 2001 national exhibition are marred in controversy and one of the exhibitors has filed a suit in the courts. We would like to hear from V S Dastur who was the coordinator of that show besides being chairman of the organizing committee and co-chairman of the jury as Sahoo is not telling the truth.

He questions India Post's demanding an explanation on their name being associated with his so-called national. Yet he characteristically conceals the fact that since early February 2002 he has been fraudulently publicizing India Post's names in all publicity. He did not desist even when he was explicitly told to do so by India Post in May 2002 and continued till December 2002 to use their name. He was forced to acknowledge that India Post is not associated with the exhibition after the action initiated by India Post.

He then throws up a blatant lie that India Post was asking for payment for supply of frames. We ask Sahoo to make public the communication from India Post in support of his accusation. In fact Sahoo held on to the frames that were sent to Bhubaneswar for a zonal exhibition in April 2002 for over 8 months and upset the plans of several other exhibitions in other parts of India.

Sahoo springs another deceitful question 'Have you heard of people in another state going to courts against an exhibition organized by a state level society?' He yet again does not provide any details for his vague accusations. And here we thought Sahoo was all along claiming his show as national.

Rajesh Varma, a life member of PCI and an exhibitor in three nationals in 1997, 2000, and 2001 filed a suit against PCI and others citing violations of rules at whims and fancies of those who control PCI and prayed that Sahoo, Dilip Shah, Dastur, M G Pitte, and A R Singhee are not the proper persons to hold the exhibitions of Philately in India and a decree for perpetual injunction be passed restraining them from holding the exhibitions mischievously or from using any national fund directly or indirectly permanently.

He once again falsely claims that this suit delayed the exhibition by two months. He took the decision to postpone the exhibition on December 13, 2003 when he received over fax the communication from India Post which was also put up on India Post's web site later. We doubt that he had the papers related to the court case filed at New Delhi on December 11, 2002. He also fails to mention the fact that twice a caveat was filed by the organizers of this so-called national in the Bhubaneswar courts against, believe it or not, all members of PCI.

He then explains that the so-called national controversially named "INPEX 02" was held in 2003 like some stamps printed in a particular year are issued next year. Till a little while ago Sahoo was against whatever India Post did but here he has candidly not only admired and adopted a practice that is not very popular with philatelists. Being ever the opportunist he selectively uses whatever is advantageous to him when it is advantageous to him.

Sahoo, who does not have access to any database on philatelic statistics on India what to say of the world, grandiosely proclaims that there are no examples in this world where exhibitions held with private initiative are denied support by a department whose job is to promote philately. We simply refuse to comment on such generalizations that are not supported by facts.

He exhorts to 'calculate the amount of revenue the DOP (read India Post) lost as it did not avail the opportunity to market their stamps and other products.' We like facts and figures and hereby ask him to let us have the amount of revenue earned in last national that he had organized in 2000, and the national in 2001 and then we will be able to compare the figures with the amount of revenue being brought in by some of the district level exhibitions. The results will speak for themselves.

He rues the fact that there were no 'Special covers, no special stamp' but stops short of disclosing that he has only himself to be blamed for it.

We wholeheartedly agree with him, for once, when he asks India Post to listen to saner voices and unwind their mind. We do feel that India Post has apparently already started doing this after nearly 25 years of listening to voices of PCI.

He then once again calls the exhibition the first national fully organized in private sector. Calling this exhibition as the 10th national is not objected to by the older societies that have organized such exhibitions in the past, just shows how for petty personal gains the representatives of such societies dare not open their mouth against incorrect presentation of history by those who control PCI and dole out philatelic favors.

Even with this diatribe Sahoo does not rest and in his trademark vagueness closes with 'We request the Department of Posts to find out how some fellows have denuded their archives of valuable philatelic treasures and at what cost.' Sahoo is an authority on denuding the archives as well as determining the cost of such treasures (usually exorbitant). His last line however seems out of place in a piece about so-called national that no one else claims as success except less than 100 persons in a country of over a billion people.

This also seems a change of policy for PCI that till now had thwarted all attempts by India Post in implementing the ban on the display of proofs, color trials, progressives, and other such restricted material as such items are usually stolen from the government custody and it affected the interests of a majority of those who control PCI. We have devoted Part 29 of this column in Issue # 88 of October 24, 2002 entirely on this subject.

However we never argue with a good decision and recommend India Post to initiate suitable action on Sahoo's request. To start with India Post may recover from former PCI President, P Gupta, the official correspondence between Master of India Security Press and Director General of Posts that 'Postal Stationery of India', a publication of India Study Circle for Philately in UK by Derek Lang mentions he has. It will also be worthwhile to find out how these papers and relevant treasures landed with Gupta.

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