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Friday, February 17, 2012

Is That Your Face on a Stamp?

A postal employee sorted ordered sets of special postage stamps featuring photographs of citizens in Mumbai on Feb. 6, 2012.
Sealed with a kiss is so passé. Now you can send letters with stamps bearing a picture of your face.
The “My Stamp” scheme in Mumbai lets you have your photograph printed on five rupee (10 U.S. cent) stamps. The minimum order a customer can place is for one sheet of 12 stamps.
Mumbai General Post Office, which operates under the country’s central post department India Post, started the initiative Saturday and has attracted more than 700 people so far, officials say. The scheme will run until Feb. 11.
Mumbai Post Office has hired photographers to take customers’ pictures for the stamps, which carry backdrops such as the Taj Mahal, zodiac signs and characters from the Panchatantra fables.
Mumbai is just the latest Indian city to try out the “My Stamp” scheme, which was first introduced at the National Philately Exhibition in New Delhi last February and later launched in the capital and elsewhere, including Lucknow and Pune.
 “We followed a holistic approach wherein we tied the announcement with the inauguration of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in the city and spread the word,” said Abha Singh, director at Mumbai GPO, who described the response as “terrific.”
Seminars on philately and heritage walks of the GPO, which is located in the city’s Fort area and dates back to 1794, were some of the initiatives tied to the launch.
“Things like Facebook have overtaken letter-writing and thus interest in philately has also waned. We hope to popularize the hobby in the modern age,” Ms. Singh said, adding that while volumes of personalized mail have gone down, business mail – including bills and credit card statements — have remained high despite the advent of email.
 A couple got photographed for their set
of postage stamps in Mumbai on Feb. 6
“There is a certain kind of romanticism attached when a letter to your dear one bears a stamp with your picture. It is more powerful than words,” she said.
               “What could be more better than having your own photo as a stamp and being able to use it just the way you use an ordinary stamp,” added Basti Solanki, president of the Pune-based International Collectors’ Society of Rare Items. Mr. Solanki has been collecting Indian stamps for 25 years.
Mr. Solanki added that a friend had more than 1,000 stamps printed for his wedding invitations. “The guests were obviously surprised. It also added a personal touch to the cards.”
According to a new report by U.K.-based Oxford Strategic Consulting, India has one post office per 7,651 citizens and its postal service ranks sixth among emerging countries in terms of delivery efficiency. 

A grandmother looked at a set of her stamps
 that she got clicked with her grandson.
The top ranked emerging market postal operator is Correios Brazil, which is ninth overall, followed by Russia Post, the consultancy firm says. The U.S. Postal Service is currently the top performer overall.
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