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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

United Nations and the National Flag of India

                  United Nations and the National Flag of India
The United Nations is the only organisation in the world neither a country nor a territory that is permitted to issue postage stamps. United Nations stamps are unique in the world of stamp collecting, since they are issued in three different currencies. UN stamps offer truly international perspective by helping to focus attention on question of global attention.
 The first 16 stamps in the United Nations “Flag” series issued on 26 September 1980. The idea of producing the flags of Member States had been on UNPA’s mind for a long long time. The stamps designed by Ole Hamann, Denmark, were executed by Irving Konopiaty of USA. The names of the first 16 countries were drawn by the Secretary-General. There after each year UNPA released 16 flag stamps as an annual event until all Member’s flag had been issued in 1989. The stamps were printed in photogravure by Helio Courvoisier S. A., Switzerland. (Note; The popular “Flag” series resumed again in 1997 to accommodate the Member Countries admitted after 1989).

Indian National Flag appeared in the 6th Group of 16 countries in 1985. The Flag shows 12 spoke Asoka Chakra in place of 24 spokes.

I wrote to the Chief of the UNPA in 1985 drawing their kind attention to the difference in the number of wheel spoke on the UN stamp illustrating the flag of India. The explanations offered in a letter dated 26 Nov, 1985 by Gisela Grunewald - the then Chief of the UN Postal Administration, which, I quote; ‘... to avoid production problem and to ensure clear-cut image it was necessary to simplify the design by reducing the number of spokes in the wheel….’. Unquote.
However, the explanation offered appears to be flimsy, as because UNPA had issued more complex/complicated ‘Flags’ of other nations accurately and correctly. In fact, this is the only recorded UN Flag Stamp which has been found with image distortion.
Nikhilesh Melkote of Bangaluru also received a letter of regret from the Chief of UNPA in 1985 when he pointed out the error.
Earlier, in a ‘Press Release’ dated 15 August 1980 the UNPA had assured, ‘the flags on stamps would be identical to the flags flying outside UN Headquarters’. Quote;
“The flags on the stamps will be identical to the flags flying outside United Nations Headquarters as of 14 April 1980, except that they will be in true proportions . ….. Ole Hamann, who was then still Chief of the UN Postal Administration, and Irving Konopiaty, a professional artist with UNPA’s Graphic Design Unit at that time, collaborated on the designs for the stamps. Achieving dimensional accuracy and true colour in the designs was such exacting work that it took months of work before the designs left the drawing board.” Unquote.
Subsequent issues of UNPA stamps illustrating the Indian National Flag conformed with the official flag specifications, however. 

The UNPA launched its Coin and Flag series in 2006. The series ran for several years featuring 24 UN Member States each year until all Member States were represented. The concept for the UN Coin and Flag series was developed by Jenny J. Karia, and designed by Rorie Katz. The stamps were printed in offset by Cartor Security Printing (France).

Indian “Coin and Flag” released in the second batch of 24 countries in 2007.
 The UN international generic personalized stamp sheet issued in 2009. It shows the flags of the UN Headquarters with the Secretariat Building in the background. (The photograph was taken in 1959).

India signed the UN charter on 26 June 1945. 
 The United Nations in its bid to mark the emergence of India as an Independent nation, held a flag hoisting ceremony on 16th August 1947 where the erstwhile flag of British-India was replaced by the new flag of independent India in front of the main entrance of UN HQ building at Lake Success, New York, where fifty-five flag poles were arranged in a circle with the flags of all Member Nations.

Dr. Padnanabha Pillai, recently appointed Representative of India raised the country’s new national flag in 1947 to join the fifty-four other UN Member countries. (Photo courtesy: Library of Congress).
 In India the UN flag is flown along with the national flag on all buildings on which the Indian national flag is regularly flown on October 24, on the UN Day, except on Rashtrapati Bhawan, the vice president's house, Parliament House and the Supreme Court building. Since 1948, October 24 has been celebrated across the globe as the UN Day.The United Nations was established on October 24, 1945 after World War II to promote international cooperation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sydney International Flag Congress: 26th International Congress of Vexillology (ICV), 2015: A Memoir

Vexillology is the scientific study of flags and related emblems. It is concerned with research into flags of all kinds, both modern and historical, the creation of a body of practice for flag design and usage, and of a body of theory of flag development. Vexillology seeks to understand and explain the important part played by flags in the modern world. (Flag Institute, UK)
Every two years flag experts gather to share their interest and knowledge about flags in International Congress of Vexillology (ICV). ICVs are held every two years beginning 1965 when the first ICV was held at Muiderberg, the Netherlands under the auspices of the International Federation of Vexillological Associations (which is referred to by its French initials: FIAV - Fédération Internationale des Associations Vexillologiques). ICVs consist mainly of lectures, presentations and workshops by the world’s leading flag experts who have the opportunity to present their research and activities to their international peers.
The 26th International Congress of Vexillology (ICV) was held recently from 31st August - 4th September, 2015 in Sydney, Australia, attended by more than 103 delegates from 25 nations.
ICV 26 consisted 33 lectures on a diverse range of flag topics (these will be published shortly by Flags Australia), excursions to flag related sites, viz. Sydney Observatory Hill Flag display (1st Sept), visit to Australian War Memorial Annex, Mitchell, Australian War Memorial and Parliament House in Canberra, Avenue of Flags on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin (2nd Sept), celebrating Australian National Flag Day & Australian Merchant Navy Day. One participant from each nation represented at ICV 26 carried their national flag to the ceremony on 3rd Sept at Martin Place, catching up with friends with a shared interest at an informal FOTW meeting at Barracks on Barrack.
ICV26 provided ample opportunities to learn new things about flags and their usage, to meet old friends and to find new ones for social interaction and networking. As usual tradition ICV 26 culminated in a final banquet on 4th September.
“Flags and Stamps” was represented by Sekhar Chakrabarti. He was the sole Indian participant in Sydney Flag Congress. Mr Ralph Kelly, Chair of the Organising Committee for ICV 26, in his letter of invitation on behalf of Flags Australia dated 3 October 2014 wrote; “Our Sydney International congress will be honoured to have you attend. I have pleasant recollections of meeting you in Rotterdam at the 25th ICV and I greatly appreciated your lecture on the ancient symbols of Indian culture. Your scholarship and contribution to vexillology, philately and national identity in India reflected in your book The Indian National Flag unfurled through Philately, a copy of which is in my personal collection”.

On day 2 (Tuesday, 1st September) Mr Chakrabarti delivered his PPT presentation titled “An early 20th century Indian National Flag remembering the contribution of an Irish lady made 110 years ago”. It was an attempt to unravel one of the little known aspects of an early proposal for an All India National Flag designed by Sister Nivedita – an Irish lady, resettled in India.
Jonathan Dixon of ‘Flags Australia’ reports in the Flags of the World (FOTW); “Sekhar Chakrabarti led us to the contribution of an Irish lady to an early 20th century Indian flag by first reflecting on the women celebrated as first flag makers of national flags - in the USA, Philippines, Haiti and Cuba. In contrast, an early proposed Indian national flag was designed by Sister Nivedita. Born Margaret Noble, she was an Irish woman in India at a time when the 1905 partition of India prompted the beginning of the Swadeshi nationalist movement.  She was one of the earliest to suggest that they needed a national flag, and designed a flash employing a yellow thunderbolt symbol, inspired by the Vedas, on a red field between 108 flames and Bengali text meaning "hail to the mother”. This text also appears on later nationalist flags”.
 Placed here are a few images of the Sydney Flag Congress;

Sydney Observatory Hill Flag display (1st Sept)

Day 3 (2nd Sept): On way to Canberra by bus, seen here Dr David F. Phillips, Director North American Institute of Heraldic and Flag Studies, and Prof. Michel Lupant, President, FIAV
  Catching up with friends with a shared interest at an informal FOTW meeting at Barracks on Barrack.

The special post mark commemorating 17th ICV in 1997, Cape Town, South Africa. Perhaps, it is the only philatelic example on International Flag Congress - a present from Mr Bruce Berry of the South African Vexillological Association (SAVA). 
Ralph Kelly and Ralph Bartlett of Flags Australia at the Mt Ainslie Lookout in Canberra (original removed and the cropped version re-posted on 30th Sept.) the duo of the three main architects of the ICV26, who made the Sydney ICV, a GRAND SUCCESS and the most memorable one.