Philatelic tribute to Independence Day,since 1947

Philatelic tribute to Independence Day,since 1947

The historic date of August 15 has over the years marked the release of several special commemorative stamps as a philatelic tribute to Independence Day by the Department of Post

The historic date of August 15 has over the years marked the release of several special commemorative stamps as a philatelic tribute to Independence Day by the Department of Post.

While Independent India’s first commemorative stamp was issued more than three months after the country got freedom from the British,the years that followed saw several stamps being released on August 15 to mark the occasion. Narrating the history of such stamps,philatelist Shrikant Kulkarni says India’s first commemorative stamp was issued on November 21,1947.

“It was obvious that the new government took some time to come out with commemorative stamps to mark Independence,as reins of the country were just handed over to it. The first stamp had the Tricolour,with words ‘Jai Hind’ and date ‘15 August 1947’,printed on it. It was in the denomination of three-and-a-half annas,” he said.

On December 15,1947,two other such postal items themed on the country’s freedom were released. “While one of those stamps bore the picture of ‘Ashok Stambh’,the other with a picture of an aeroplane on it was meant for foreign airmail. The denomination of the two stamps was one-and-a-half annas and 12 annas,respectively,” says Kulkarni,who has an enviable collection of stamps.


The first anniversary of the country’s Independence witnessed the release of a set of four commemorative stamps dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.

“It is believed that the government had placed order for these stamps with Switzerland. Gandhiji died on January 30,1948,and the government was running out of time to get things arranged ahead of August 15. These stamps were in four denominations — one-and-a-half annas,three-and-a-half annas,12 annas and Rs 10,” Kulkarni said.

August 15,1949,the second anniversary,saw simultaneous release of as many as 16 stamps themed on ‘archeology’,featuring Taj Mahal,Qutub Minar,Ellora Caves and Golden Temple among other archeological wonders of the country. “Even after two years of Independence,British-era stamps bearing the photograph of King George VI were in use in India due to non-availability of Indian stamps. The government then decided to ensure replacement for these and released 16 stamps at one go,” says Kulkarni.

In 1957,the Department of Post issued a couple of commemorative stamps to celebrate the centenary year of India’s first freedom struggle,also known as the Revolt of 1857.

The silver jubilee year of India’s Independence saw the release of two commemorative stamps,including one dedicated to the Armed Forces. On August 15,1973,the department released a special commemorative stamp showing Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru together.

Among different commemorative stamps released on August 15,philatelists make special mention of the one released on the occasion of the 40th anniversary. “The commemorative stamp figured ‘Lal,Bal,Pal’,the triumvirate of staunch nationalists Lala Lajpat Rai,Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal. The 60 paise stamp displayed Tilak with his popular slogan ‘Swaraj is my birthright’,” says Kulkarni.

Philatelists rue the fact that the Department of Post failed to come out with a stamp to mark 50 years of Independence.

Tricolour on postage stamps of other countries

Philatelist Deepak Modi is a proud collector of postage stamps issued by several foreign countries with the Indian National Flag printed on them. “The Commonwealth of Dominica,as a part of Millennium 200 series,issued a commemorative stamp that features Pandit Nehru holding the Tricolour. Jersey,a British Crown dependency just off the coast of Normandy,France,also released a stamp themed on ‘Indian National Costume’ portraying the Indian flag in background,” says Modi. Afghanistan and Vietnam are among the other countries that have had the Indian Tricolour on their postage stamps.