Glimpses of Modern Indian Philately

This blog is devoted to Modern Indian Postal History and Modern Philately of India providing less known information on various aspects of Indian Postal Services.



First Indian Postage Stamp depicting Indian National Flag was issued on 21st November 1947. Two other stamps were issued on 15th December 1947. Release of stamp was notified by Postal Notice No. 43 dated 19th November 1947.

Text of Postal Notice is given below:

Postal Notice No. 43
Issue of India Independence Commemorative
Postage Stamps
It is hereby notified that in commemoration of India's Independence new postage stamps in pictorial design are being issued in three denominations, namely 1½ annas, 3½ annas and 12 annas. The new 3½ annas stamp will be available for sale at Post Offices in India on and from the 21st November 1947. The remaining two denominations will be released on the 15th December 1947. All the three denominations will remain on sale upto April 30, 1948. These commemorative stamps will be used for all postal purposes and will not replace ordinary postage stamps of the corresponding denominations which will continue to be current.
New Delhi
19th November 1947.

First Three Stamps issued in 1947

: Issue Date : 21st November, 1947 Watermark: Multi Star
Perforation: 13½ x 14
: Issue Date :
15th December, 1947
Watermark: Multi Star
Perforation: 14 x 13½
: Issue Date :
15th December, 1947
Watermark: Multi Star
Perforation: 13½ x 14

Courtesy: Mr. Ashok Kumar Bayanwala, Ahmedabad

This article is written by Mr. Ashok Kumar Bayanwala and examples are from his own collection. This article was earlier published in GPA News and later it was made available on the website with the permission of author. Once again for collectors of Modern Indian Postal History, I am publishing this article on  this blog with permission of author.

The Freedom Struggle actually began after 1905, when the Britishers partitioned Bengal. Boycott Movement started. In December 1906 a tricolor National Flag was unfurled for the first time at Calcutta Congress. The Revolutionary Movement spread throughout India. The British Government launched assault on the Indian National movement. In August 1920, Gandhiji launched a Nonviolent and Non Cooperation Movement.
In December 1929, the resolution for Complete Independence was accepted at Lahore Congress and it was decided to celebrate 26th January every year as Independence Day. Gandhiji launched Civil Disobedience Movement with Historic Dandi March on 12th March 1930, which shacked the British Empire. When the Cripps Mission failed, the country began to prepare for a final confrontation with British Imperial Power. On 8th August 1942, the Quit India Resolution was passed and the clarion call "DO or DIE" was given by Gandhiji. Some 60,000 people were arrested and more then 10,000 people were killed, when ruthless repressive measures were taken by British Army and Police. In 1943, Netaji S. C. Bose organised "Azad Hind Fauj" from Indian Prisoners of war by Japan and launched an attack on India through Imphal. On 29th February 1947, the Britishers agreed to transfer power to responsible Indian Hands. The long awaited Freedom of India came on Midnight of 14th - 15th August 1947. Due to paucity of time at their disposal, the Department of Posts could not come out with a Postage Stamp. But several labels, privately printed, were issued to celebrate the event. "Let's March on" label with Gandhiji, along with nine different labels in ten different colours were printed by New Jack Printing Press, Prabhadevi - Bombay. Thus 100 different labels are in this series. Beside these labels, many others were also issued.

First Slogan of Independent India
To celebrate the attainment of Independence, the Indian Post & Telegraph Department introduced a Special post mark and/or a slogan on 15th August 1947, reading "JAI HIND", in bilingual from all major post offices of India.
“JAI HIND" was the first commemorative post mark of Independent India, which was actually a war slogan of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army which was adopted by Free India as National Slogan of the country - Bharat. A close scrutiny of this slogan post mark, reveals that the cancellation was produced locally by the post office concerned from a master drawing. The alphabets of the word "JAI HIND" in English and Hindi, varies from 61mm to 67mm, and the width varies from 11½mm to 15mm.

There is something more in this slogan, which has attracted me. After checking/collecting 100 of this slogan, I have came to a conclusion that this post mark was withdrawn on 31st December 1947. And it was reintroduced from Girdikot P.O./Jodhpur for the first time in June 1948. That is why, this post mark, found after 31st December 1947, are mainly (say more than 95%) are from this post office only, and the remaining 5% are the late use of the post mark. The late use of any post mark can not be ruled out as it was done at the whim of Postal Clerks. We even find early India cancellations of the 19th Century on Independent India stamps.

Another interesting finding is pointing towards a fact that this slogan was withdrawn from Girdikot (which was the second main PO of Jodhpur) in April 1949, but reappeared in June 1949 in a new format from Jodhpur PO the new format is in a rectangular box measuring 51mm x 26mm and also reads "JAI HIND" in English and Hindi in two lines, with date, time and place in 3rd, 4th and 5th line respectively. The time and date are flanked with 3 wavy lines on each side. It was also used as a canceller. It remained in use until November 1955, according to my collection.

My collection of this post mark reveals that this slogan was used from the different Post offices/towns. 

"Jai Hind" Slogans were used from the following Post offices/towns.

Name of the Town/Post office
in mm
in mm
Date of
1. Ahmednager 65½ 12½ 02.09.1947
2. Alibag 62½ 12½ 17.08.1947
3. Amritsar 65 12 ?
4. Bara Bazar (Calcutta) 61 14½ 23.08.1947
5. Bareily 62½ 13 15.08.1947
6. Baroda 65 13 13.09.1947
7. Barrackpore 62 11½ ?
8. Bhavnager 62½ 13 15.08.1947
9. Bhopal ? 11½ 04.09.1947
10. Bijapur 64 14½ ?
11. Bijnor 63½ 14½ 25.11.1947
12. Bikaneer 62 13 ?
13. Bombay GPO 67 14½ 15.08.1947
14. Bulandshahr 63 13 09.09.1947
15. Calcutta GPO 63 13 15.08.1947
16. Chapra ? 13½ 05.09.1947
17. Chikmagalur 64 14½ 30.08.1947
18. Cooch Behar 64 13 05.02.1959
19. Delhi 65 14 ?
20. Dhanbad 63 12 03.09.1947
21. Dharwar 65½ 14½ 24.08.1947
22. Etar (si) ? 15 21.08.1947
23. Fetehpur 64 13 17.09.1947
24. Gaya 63 12½ 19.08.1947
25. Girdikot (Jodhpur) 63 13 22.10.1948
26. Girgaon (Bombay) 63 15 16.08.1947
27. Hissar 64 12 23.08.1948
28. Hoshiarpur 64 13 ?
29. Hyderabad (Deccan) 64 12 15.08.1947
30. Jaunpur 64 13 03.09.1947
31. Jodhpur 64 14 28.08.1947
32. Kalbadevi (Bombay) 62 14½ 06.09.1947
33. Kotah 62 14½ 15.08.1947
34. Kumbakonam 63 11½ 11.09.1947
35. Laharia Sarai 63½ 12 02.09.1947
36. Madras GPO 62 14 15.08.1947
37. Mujaffar Nager 62 13½ 17.09.1947
38. Neemuch 64 14 ??
39. New Delhi 62½ 12½ 15.08.1947
40. New Delhi GHQ PO 66 13 15.08.1947
41. Nowgong (Assam) 64 12½ 15.09.1947
42. Purnea 63½ 13½ 15.08.1947
43. Rajkot 63 12½ 02.09.1947
44. Ranchi 63 13 04.09.1947
45. Sambhar Lake 62 14 26.08.1947
46. Sangrur (Jind State) 63 14 20.08.1947
47. Saugor 64 12 ?
48. Sholapur 63 13 21.08.1947
49. Simla 63 13 18.08.1947
50. Trivandrum ? 12 02.09.1947

Courtesy: Mr. Ashok Kumar Bayanwala

Dear Readers,
Before we start discussing modern Indian postal history, let us have a look at an article on history of Indian Post Offices since its inception.  
- Prashant

History of the Indian Post Office

No other institution ever has come closer to human lives as the Post Office. Post office reaches every nook and corner of the country. This is one of the reasons why many of the Government, non-government organizations, when faced with difficulties of reaching the largest possible number of people, have thought of utilizing the agency of the Post Office for the purpose.

The Indian Post Office was recognized as a separate organization of national importance and was placed, for the first time, under the unitary control of a Director General of the Post Office in India on October 01, 1854. It thus completes 150 years of its operations this year.

The Indian Postal System is not carved out of a single rock. The postal systems of more than 650 princely States, the district postal systems and Zamindari Dak were merged with the main British postal system. The bonding of the fragments has been so fine that one could be tempted to think that the institution is monolithic.

Lord Clive first established the postal system in the country in 1766. Later on Warren Hastings developed the system by establishing Calcutta Grand Post Office (GPO) under a Postmaster General in 1774. In other Presidencies of Madras and Bombay, it came into existence in 1786 and 1793. The Act of 1837 first regulated the Post Office on a uniform basis to unite the organization throughout the three Presidencies into one all India Service. The Post Office Act of 1854, however, reformed the entire fabric of the postal system with placing the Post Office of India on the present administrative footings on October 01, 1854.

In 1854, both the Posts and Telegraph departments were born. From the beginning, the set up was run on welfare lines. Profit was not the motto. In the second half of the 19th century the Government declared that so long as the Department payed its own expenses, nothing more was desired. The same trend continued even in the 20th century. The operations of post office and telegraph developed side by side. On the eve of the World War I, in 1914, both the departments were amalgamated.

Integration of Services

The financial and political integration of the Indian States made it necessary and inevitable that the Government of India should pursue the policy of integration of the postal system of the Indian States with the larger postal system. There were States, which maintained district and independent postal organization with local postage stamps of their own. The letterboxes of these states were painted in green colour to distinguish them from the Indian Post Office letterboxes, which were painted red.

In 1908, it was found that out of the 652 native states in India, 635 States had cast their lot with the Indian Post Office. Only 15 States remained out; the outstanding ones being Hyderabad, Gwalior, Jaipur and Travnacore.

A major reorganization of the Posts and Telegraph (P&T) Department took place in 1925. The accounts of the P & T were reconstituted to examine the fiscal profile of the Department. The attempt was to find out the extent to which it was imposing a burden on the tax payers or bringing in revenue to the Exchequer, how far each of the four constituent branches of the department, the Postal, Telegraph, Telephone and Wireless were contributing towards the result.

Multifarious Activities

Indian Postal service has not only confined to its main task of delivering letters and being an effective mode of communication. It might appear surprising but the Post office was maintaining the dak (post) bunglows and sarais in those early days. For well over three decades from 1830s, the Post Office also facilitated road journey of the passengers. A traveller could book his seat in any palki, boat, horse, coach and cart carrying mails and parcels on payment to the post office a fixed amount in advance and take rest on wayside dak chowkee, later on known as dak bungalow.

During the plague epidemic in the late 19th century, the Post Office was assigned the task of selling quinine packets. It is a country of joint families and small incomes where millions of rupees have to be sent in the shape of small sums. The money transactions were carried out through the agency of the 321 Government treasuries, located in district headquarters. In 1880, the extensive agency at the command of the 5090 Post Offices was handed over the transfer of small sums by way of Money Order, thereby obviating the difficulties of travelling to the district headquarters and identification of the payee.

In 1884, Postal Life Insurance was born, to insure the lives of ‘native’ postal employees other than those in high positions since the insurance companies operating in India were unwilling to insure common natives.

Freedom Struggle

When the nation went through turbulent times, the post office also suffered. It witnessed arson and loot after 1857. A Deputy Postmaster and an overseer were killed, a runner wounded and a number of Post Offices in Bihar, UP, North West Frontier Provinces (NWFP) were looted. In the NWFP and Oudh practically all communication lines were closed and quite a number of post offices could not be reopened for a whole year even after the violence had subsided.

Postal strikes of 1920, which lasted for about five months, caused complete dislocation of the postal services. In the 1942 Quit India movement, a number of Post Offices and letterboxes were set on fire and mails could only be exchanged with great difficulty. It led to dislocation of postal lines in many sectors.


Over the years evolution of mail delivery has grown from foot to Speed-post and e-post. Post Card was introduced in 1879 while Value Payable Parcel (VPP), Parcel and Insurance were brought into being in 1877. Indian Postal Order had its origin in 1930. For faster delivery, Postal Index Number (PIN) Code was introduced in 1972. In view of fast emerging changes and scenario Postal and Telecom Departments were segregated in 1985. Speed-Post was launched in 1986 while keeping pace with the changing needs of the times, Metro/Rajdhani/Business Channels, EPS and Money Order via VSAT were introduced in 1994.

Postal Runner

The postal runner finds a prominent place in the folklore in every traditional society. In India one comes across stories and poems on it in almost every regional language.

Earlier there was provision of providing a drummer to each runner while passing through forest tracts. In dangerous tracts an escort of two torchbearers and two archers were also supplied after nightfall. There were numerous instances of runners being carried away by tigers, drowned in flooded rivers, bitten by venomous snakes, buried in avalanches or murdered by robbers. The Director of Public Information, Government of India, informed the Parliament in 1923 that during the year 1921-22, there were 57 cases in which the mails were plundered by highway robbers as compared with 36 in the preceding year. Seven out of 457 cases were attended with loss of life and in 13 instances the mail carriers were wounded.

Integrating Factor

The post office has helped bind the nation together, support the growth of commerce and ensure a free flow of ideas and information. The evolution of mail delivery grew from foot to horseback, stagecoach, railroad, automobile and airplane. The character, volume and transportation of mail have changed over the years. Today, emphasis is on postal mechanisation and automation, which have been undertaken to improve productivity and quality and provide access to quality postal services.

Postal services have social and economic functions that clearly go beyond a simple business rationale. This is especially true in the developing world. A reliable postal system is a critical component of the modern information and distribution infrastructure and an important catalyst for social and economic development and poverty reduction.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Welcome to the Glimpses of Modern Indian Philately Blog! 

Postal history is the study of postal systems and how they operate and, or, the study of postage stamps and covers and associated material illustrating historical episodes of postal systems, various postal facilities and services etc.

Indian philately has found its due place on the map of world philately. Since Independence, several definitive and commemorative stamps portraying various aspects of the country’s life and culture have been issued. If we look back, we will find that since Independence many postal services were introduced out of which some were revised and few were discontinued. There were many postal services, which are not even known today. There are many facts which are not known to collectors. 

Postal History of Modern India is also very and vibrant and provides a vivid, varied and wealthy treasure of information. 

Idea of creating a blog ‘Glimpses of Modern Indian Philately’ is conceived to provide, share and discuss information exclusively on Modern Postal History or Modern Philately of India.

Collectors of Modern Indian Philately around the world are invited to share the knowledge and information on the subject.

Prashant Pandya