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Monday, November 16, 1998

"Modern stamps rarely win prizes" 

Sushma Chadha  
'Indian Women in Aviation' was the highlight of the philatelic release last month. The stamp was brought out to commemorate the contribution of Indian women in the realm of aviation. A high-risk adventurous career has always attracted the young, but it was never thought of as either a hobby or a full-time career for women.

But there have been exceptions. Way back in 1930s, Urmila K Parikh opted for the adventurous career of becoming a pilot. She was the first Indian woman to obtain an air pilot's licence. After Independence, many more women turned towards aviation. A few names that stand out are:

  • Prem Mathur, who became the first commercial pilot to fly domestic airlines in 1947

  • Durba Banerjee, who became the first pilot of Indian Airlines in 1956

  • Saudamini Deshmukh, who was the first lady captain in the world to fly an all-women crew IATA schedule flight on Nov 27, 1985

  • Simran Sondhi and Cheryl Dutta, IAF flight cadets who flew a helicopter with an all-women crew for the firsttime

  • Kalpana Chawla, who is the first Indian born woman astronaut

    The stamp, `Indian Women in Aviation', does not feature these high profile women pilots, but the concept design by designer J P Irani has symbolically presented young women as commercial pilot, flier of IAF planes, and as astronaut.

    Pulak Gupta, secretary, Philatelic Society, has praised the theme and the attractive design of the stamp. He says: ``The stamp will interest philatelists collecting stamps on different careers, women in important fields.'' As aviation is an important theme with stamp collectors, the stamp has value, he adds. The first-day cover (FDC) is colourful and interesting, ``but these covers cannot be sold at a premium, there are no buyers for it'', says Gupta. In exhibitions, there is no separate section for display of FDCs, so collectors do not collect them. FDCs have educational value as they declare the day the stamp was issued and detail information on the history of the stamp, he states.

    However, hecriticises the denomination of the stamp: ``A stamp for Rs 8 can be used for neither international postage nor a registry. I fail to understand why the value is put at Rs 8, the rate is not justified.''

    On being asked whether amateur collectors should go in for this stamp, Gupta replies: ``As per the government policy, modern stamps do not fetch prizes at exhibitions. The judges are owners of stamps of the pre-Independence period and new, modern stamps are less on exhibit and win fewer prizes.''The other stamp of the month was on Acharya Tulsi -- philosopher, writer, poet, singer, orator, spiritual saint and social reformer. Acharya Tulsi was drawn to asceticism at the early age of 11. In 1936, at the age of 22, he was appointed Acharya of the Jain Shvetambaras.

    Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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