Philately gets fewer enthusiastsSadia Afrin
Stamp collecting, which was once a very popular hobby in Bangladesh, has few enthusiasts these days amongst the country’s youth, and may soon die out as a common recreational activity.
Imran Hasan, a 14-year-old student at Mastermind school, said he did not have any idea about what was stamp collecting and Raka Aziz, a 16-year-old O level student at Sunnydale School, told New Age that although she had heard of it, she had no time to nurture the bobby because of excessive pressure of regular studies.
Philatelist Mohammad Eqbal Majid, also owner of Supreme Stamp International, said stamp collecting was now no longer a common hobby among the new generation as there was hardly any effort to encourage them in this regard.
A stamp collection exhibition two years ago at Motijheel Model School and Siddheshwari Girls’ School, which he organised along with Democracy Watch to try and encourage the young generation for stamps collection, only resulted in 60 new collectors, he added.
Eqbal said the government had not undertaken a programme since 1992 although he thought joint efforts by both the government and the private organisations were necessary to uphold the country’s history and culture.
Eqbal, a stamp collector since his childhood, has an exceptional assortment of both national and international stamps including Bangladesh’s first stamp in 1971.
In July 1971, during the liberation war, Bangladesh had issued a set of eight postage stamps to drum up international support. The first commemorative stamp of Bangladesh was issued on February 21, 1972 in remembrance of the 1952 language movement and it depicted the Shaheed Minar (martyr’s memorial).
Since then the Bangladesh Post Office has continued issuing commemorative and special postage stamps and postal stationeries to mark national and international events, heritage and culture.
Till now, the Bangladesh Post Office has issued 732 postage stamps, 28 miniature sheets and nearly 400 First Day Cover.
The General Post Office has its own Philatelic Museum and Philatelic Bureau on its premises.
A significant number of people, both at home and abroad, have an account at GPO Philatelic Bureau for collecting stamps, the officials said.
Bangladesh’s first stamp was designed by Biman Mallik, a UK citizen of Indian ancestry, who has recently been honored by the Bangladesh government.
Recently, a new stamp designed by Anwar Hossain, depicting Shaheed Minar, was issued on February 21, 2012 with a value of Tk 21 to commemorate 60 years of language movement and International Mother Language Day.
Another new stamp depicting ‘Shikha Chirontan’ and having the image of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, also designed by Anwar Hossain, was issued on March 26, 2012 with the value of Tk 26 in remembrance of 41 years of Independence Day.
GPO Philatelic Bureau manager Nesaruddin Ahmed told New Age that most of the stamp collectors were middle-aged people and only a small number of school and college students were enthusiastic regarding stamp collection.
Philatelists’ Association of Bangladesh general secretary ATM Anwarul Quadir said the government should take a number of initiatives to organise stamp exhibitions and workshops at schools, colleges and universities, so that the new generation could be introduced to the idea of collecting stamps.
Stamp collection should be encouraged to uphold the country’s culture and heritage among the new generation, he added.
However, Eqbal is certainly not the lone philately enthusiasts and dealers. Other private stamp organisations including Stamp Plus at Malibagh, Salam Stamp Centre at Farmgate, The Philately at Karwan Bazar and Dhaka Stamp Centre on Elephant Road are active in Dhaka.
The private organisations deal with a number of other countries including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Though postage stamps were invented simply for the collection of postal revenue, they soon came to be regarded as a symbol of sovereignty of an independent country and their collection become a trendy hobby.
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