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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.