Mumbai : The Philatelic Congress of India, the nodal national federation of Indian philatelic societies, has announced Achievement Awards for 2021 in which philatelists from Odisha have featured prominently. The awards, which were announced under three categories, have nine prominent philatelists from Odisha. While Sahadev Sahoo has been conferred the Philatelic Ratna Award, Anil Dhir has been invited as a Fellow of the Philatelic Congress of India, the first fellowship to be conferred to any philatelist of the State.
Certificates of Appreciations for excellence in promoting the hobby has been conferred to Shanti Swarup Rath, Shakil Ahmed, Ajit Kumar Dash, Ajit Kumar Raut, Nanda Kishore Agrawal, Jeevan Jyoti and Naresh Agrawal. Two philatelic bodies of the State, the Eastern India Philatelists’ Association and the Orissa Philatelic Association too have been accorded PCI Certificates of Appreciation – Societies.
According to Anil Dhir, a prominent philatelist and a postal historian who has written four award winning books on the subject, Odisha is now the philatelic capital of India. It is not a surprise that the maximum awards were given to philatelists of the State as we have some of the most prominent stamp collectors. Recollecting the contribution of the Late Bijayshree Routray, the founding president of EIPA, Dhir said that the hobby which is at a decline all over, is flourishing and on the growth in Odisha, thanks to the efforts of philatelists. Shanti Swarup Rath, the Secretary of EIPA and a prominent philatelist and author who has won laurels both in India and abroad, has lauded the collective efforts of philatelists for promoting the hobby. Dr. Bhibhudatta Mishra, whose book on Odishan Special Covers was recently released, is of the opinion that India Post should adopt a pro-active role in promoting the dying hobby. Holding of regular District and State level exhibitions and workshops are necessary to keep the hobby alive. Shakil Ahmed, another prominent philatelist, gave the example of the recent decision of the authorities to close down the heritage Philatelic Bureau at Cuttack. The proposal was shelved only after many protests by philatelists.
Ajit Kumar Dash, one of the founder members of EIPA and a member of the Governing Council of PCI said that such awards will bolster the efforts of philatelists and popularize the hobby. He retired from the Odisha Police Service as Addl. S.P. and is among the foremost forensic document experts of India with several research papers. He is known for his international award winning exhibits on Odisha, Dogs and Scouts & Guides.
Kashinath Sahoo, a youth philatelists pointed out that Odisha has some unique aspect in postal history which include the only Pigeon Post in the world, the oldest letter box of the country and some of the most unique heritage post office buildings. The erstwhile feudatory of Bamra was one of the few to have issued postage stamps during British rule.