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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Philately stamped out in Internet age

Ashis Senapati
ENDRAPADA: The internet and mobile phones have proven to be a major hindrance for stamp collectors as more and more people in and the country and abroad have taken to the "easier and faster" mode of communication.
Writing letter have almost become a thing of the past. Once considered the "king of hobbies", fit for those who seek knowledge and aesthetic pleasure, stamp collection is no longer a thing of attraction for the tech-savvy generation of this fast-paced internet age.
"Delicately removing stamps from envelopes and collecting them and placing them in their albums, exchanging them with others to enhance their collection all these may have an old-world charm. But the youth of today have no fascination or the time for them anymore," Mustaque Mohammad, a philatelist from Kendrapada, said.
At times when speed is the buzzword, prominence of cellphones, e-mail and SMS has spelt doom for the traditional communication modes, in the process also sounding the death knell for stamp collectors and philatelists, Mohammad added.
"I have been collecting stamps from my school days. I used to get foreign stamps from the letters of some of my pen friends. But now more and more people are turning to the internet to keep in touch with friends and relatives. Although the pleasure of receiving a well-written letter cannot be compared with anything else, the emphasis is now on speedy communication. So it has become difficult on me to collect stamps," Haripada Panda (52), an employee of State Bank of India in Kendrapada and a philatelist who has a collection of more than 10,000 stamps from many countries, said.
"In my school days, quite a few of our classmates had their stamp albums. I would take out foreign stamps from the letters sent to me by one of my relatives from abroad. We used to exchange stamps among friends. However, my eight-year-old son is yet to be properly introduced to stamps. We rarely receive or send letters nowadays. He is rather habituated with the internet and can send e-mails to his friends," said Manas Mohanty, another stamp collector from Kendrapada.
"Philately used to be more than just a pastime. It helped expand general knowledge, learn interesting details about the politics, history, geography, flora and fauna, national and international events, sports, films, science, agriculture of other countries. It helps cultivate attention to details and even make friends with other collectors across the border, irrespective of their age," said Mohanty.
"At present, we are collecting Indian stamps from the post offices. It has now become difficult to collect foreign stamps, as no one from other countries send us letters. They prefer sending us e-mails as it is more cost-effective and fast too. We rarely collect foreign stamps that come on parcels, packages of books and foreign magazines. Many countries nowadays don't even use postage stamps on letters and packages," the 52-year-old philatelist added.
Panda feels that organizing stamp exhibitions and competitions may encourage youngsters bring back the craze for these little pieces of paper with perforated margins.

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