Inpex 2008 at Chennai

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology, A Raja
inaugurated the 7th National Philatelic Exhibition organized by India
Post on January 2, 2008 at Chennai. Raja also released a set of 4
postage stamps featuring Endemic Butterflies of Andaman & Nicobar
Islands and a book `1857 Through Indian Postage Stamps' at the
inaugural function.
There were 350 exhibits in 1298 frames on display in 12 classes. For
some strange reason Modern Philately, Frugal Philately, and Social
Philately Classes which need to be promoted, were excluded in this
show. Reconfirming the trend the world over there were 94 exhibits in
Thematic Philately Class including 32 in Indian Themes subclass. There
were 50 exhibits in One Frame Class and 80% in these were also
Thematic. The organizers made special efforts to get 105 exhibits in
Youth class including 13 in School Collections subclass. However
majority of these were from Tamil Nadu only and most were unqualified
for participation at the national level. There was no exhibit of
Convention States subclass in Traditional philately, Postal History,
and Revenues Classes. There were only 3 exhibits in Aerophilately
class, surprisingly none in India up to Independence subclass, none in
Astrophilately class and there were only 2 exhibits in Maximaphily
The Jury consisted of G Madanmohan Das (President), Sundar Bahirwani
(Secretary), Dr S P Gupta, Professor V K Gupta, Vishnu Saksena,
Sahadeva Sahoo, Ashok Bayanwala, and Rajesh Bagri. There were five
Apprentice Jurors - Rameshwar Das Binani, Ambesh Upmanyu, Charles Lobo,
Manohar Lal, and Dr R S Gandhi.
The Jury awarded 6 Gold Medals, 12 Large Vermeil Medals, 13 Vermeil
Medals, 36 Large Silver Medals, 48 Silver Medals, 69 Silver Bronze
Medals, 81 Bronze Medals and 69 Diplomas. Only 9 exhibits failed to
score. 4 exhibits were absent. 3 exhibits were moved out of competition
due to the presence of banned items such as modern proofs and unissued
items such as Guru Granth Saheb issue.
National Grand Prize in the National Championship Class was awarded to
Madhukar Deogawanka of Kolkata for his exhibit on Indian (Stamp)
Booklets. The other 3 exhibits in the Championship Class were Kishor
Chandak's Handsruck Postage Stamps of India, Anil Suri's Fiscals
Mysore, and Valmick Desai's Philatelic Terms.
Kanimozhi, Member of Parliament and daughter of the Chief Minister of
Tamil Nadu was the chief guest at the Valedictory Function and
distributed the awards on concluding day, January 6, 2008.
K V Sundar Rajan, Post Master General of Western Region of Tamil Nadu
Circle of India Post moderated a Seminar on `Modern Trends in
Philately' on January 2, 2008. The proceedings of this Seminar in a
book form were released on January 6, 2008 at the Valedictory function.
P S Sheshadri and P Soundara Rajan, both senior philatelists, conducted
philatelic workshop each on January 3 and 5, 2008 respectively. On the
spot painting competition and state level quiz competition were
conducted on January 4, 2008.
4 special covers were issued, one on each day from 2nd day onwards.
There was no special cover issued on day one. 5 booklets and 4 picture
post cards with stamp images were also issued by Tamil Nadu Circle of
India Post on this occasion.
This is the first national that has been organized by India Post after
the India Post Regulations came in force in 2003 for organizing
exhibitions, evaluating exhibits, and maintaining the Roster of Jurors.
However the level of compliance to these regulations was barely 50%. It
is after a long gap of 15 years that India Post was hosting a national
and they unfortunately did not have in-house expertise. It is hoped
that India Post will use this opportunity as a learning experience and
the mistakes of this national will not be repeated in the forthcoming
Though it is unpleasant we have voluntarily taken up the responsibility
of recording the shortcomings of this exhibition so that these are not
swept under the carpet.
India Post, for reasons best known to them, selected few so-called
senior philatelists(average age over 70) on the organizing committee at
the cost of exclusion of many meritorious, deserving, experienced,
hardworking, and honest philatelists. It seemed a criminal record
helped one getting on to the organizing committee. Some of the
organizing committee members, especially the local members, seemed hell
bent on maximum violations by suggesting and advising India Post to
make changes in the 2003 Regulations.
To begin with instead of 3 medal levels as uniformly provided for all
classes in the India Post's Regulations it was changed to 7 medal
levels, projecting that this is how it was done in international shows;
conveniently ignoring the fact that as per International Philatelic
Federation (FIP) there are 8 medal levels in all classes, 6 medal
levels in Youth Class and 4 medal levels for One Frame Class. This is
just one example of the advice given and unfortunately accepted by
India Post which seems to have benefited no one.
However India Post needs to be congratulated for remaining steadfast to
their regulations regarding the appointment of the Jurors and not
succumbing to any external pressures.
There was no transparency and information sharing regarding the
progress of the exhibition and the philatelic community at large was
unaware of the developments. The host Circle Tamil Nadu decentralized
the hosting by distributing work to Post Master Generals heading
regions in Coimbatore, Madurai, and Trichy which made working even more
difficult and information dissemination also equally difficult. It is a
great idea to distribute the work of a national show across several
circles in the country and use their expertise however it would make
more sense to put a Steering Committee in place based at the host city
so that the progress can be monitored and regular meetings of this
committee should be held to ensure transparency and focus on the
Due to the mismanagement several exhibitors decided to stay away from
the exhibition and did not even apply for frames. It is further
estimated that about 200 well qualified exhibits were arbitrarily not
accepted. Many areas of the country went either unrepresented or were
very poorly represented. Amazingly about 50 thoroughly unqualified
exhibits were seen on display. Mounting of the exhibits got over by day
two which is at par with past performances of India Post, however
several exhibits that were sent by post were not put on display either
partially or completely.
Mounting and dismounting was made difficult by use of poor quality
adhesive on mounting strips. The strips simply came unstuck and the
exhibit sheets were falling at all times. At the time of dismounting as
soon as the frame was opened almost all the sheets fell on the floor.
These sheets were randomly picked up by the dismounting team and shoved
in to the exhibition envelope provided to the exhibitor for each frame.
Each of these envelopes containing 16 sheets was for some mysterious
reason then put in to another envelope. Later two teams checked these
sheets before a third team delivered the same to the exhibitor. The
untrained junior postal employees checking these sheets heavy handedly
were enough to give a heart stroke to the owner of the exhibit.
Fortunately very few exhibitors were inside the hall at the dismounting
stage thus many lives were saved. Several reports of damage to delicate
material have already been reported.
India Post's efforts in the last 6 years of nurturing philately at
grass root levels are paying rich dividends and the Chennai Show had
1300 frames on display, India Post definitely deserves congratulations
for their efforts. However India is a large country and a stage has now
been reached where to accommodate all qualified exhibits 3000 frame
national exhibitions are required. India is not Hong Kong where 100
frames will suffice for a national show. A better alternative for India
Post would be to organize specialized national exhibitions limited to
one or at the most couple of classes only such as Thematic, Youth, One
Frame, Traditional and Postal Stationery or Postal History, and Aero &
Astro Philately completing a full round covering all classes within the
stipulated period of 3 years. This will give an opportunity to have a
national, although limited, more frequently and in a conveniently
manageable size. The smaller size will also provide an opportunity to
take such national philatelic shows to state capitals and even smaller
towns. This would also help to bring more participation from all
corners of the country as well opportunity for more collectors to take
their exhibits one step further to the International arena.
The archives material, in the opinion of the organizers, in 3 exhibits
was seized and is at present awaiting a final verdict from India Post.
These 3 exhibits were not evaluated for awards and were moved out of
competition. India Post once again needs to be congratulated for taking
this affirmative action which will instill respect for Regulations in
the philatelic community. Readers will recall that in Bulletin 1 the
organizers had left out details about India Post's ban on display of
such material in exhibitions and the same was included subsequently.
This was done when this digital weekly in Issue #312 of October 25,
2007 drew their attention to this omission. However some Jurors
following the traditional path seemed biased against one frame and
youth class exhibits, which is reflected in the results.
The venue befitted a national show, it was stately, air-conditioned
conveniently located and surrounded with hotels, restaurants and with
ample space for everything including free parking. However the space
could have been better utilized. A large amount of space was used for
functions while frames were erected in inconvenient locations. The
venue, a pair of wedding halls, seemed to have very poor acoustics
which turned all amplified sounds almost inaudible and a small
conversation went reverberating all over giving the impression of a
fish market, created a lot of noise pollution. More attention should
have been paid to the sound system. All functions including inaugural
and concluding were conducted exclusively in Tamil language giving an
impression of the show as being a Tamil Nadu State Level Philatelic
Exhibition rather than a national level exhibition with participation
from all corners of the country.
In the respect of issue of special covers this exhibition was conducted
as a district level philatelic exhibition. Only 200 special covers,
ready with stamp and special postmark, each day were brought in and
these got sold out in less than 2 hours to buyers standing in queue
getting not more than 2 covers each. After this about 500 blank covers
were sold in 3 hours or so which were serviced with handstamping.
Surprisingly there was no provision for accepting orders so that the
covers could be supplied later. On the last day a postal employee was
caught selling a set of 4 covers at 250% premium from the post office
counter! At earlier national level exhibitions tens of thousands of
special covers have been sold each day, this exhibition missed out on a
lot of certain revenue for India Post.
Bulletin 2 was delayed in publication and a lot of information was
redundant including information on accommodation in Chennai. However
the saving grace was the inclusion of the catalog of exhibits which
came in very handy while viewing the exhibition. The 2 websites that
are there for the show also are not carrying updated information. Even
now neither the award list nor the catalog of exhibits is uploaded.
Souvenir Volume, in a warped tradition now seen at most exhibitions at
district and state level, was released at the concluding ceremony where
a few copies were circulated to the dignitaries on the dais. Philatelic
Community may get it one day but what purpose will it serve?
40 dealer booths at 2 levels were accommodated in different halls. Most
of the dealers were of the opinion that some of the State Level shows
have offered better business opportunities including the State level
show at Ahmedabad in October. Chennai however offered some good
opportunities for buying and replenishing stocks.
Most surprisingly there were no philatelic meetings, not even by local
societies and absolutely no social get together either official or
otherwise. What kind of national meet was this?
There is reason to believe that although the National Exhibition got
over in 5 days the postmortem will continue for next several months.


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