Thursday, 3 May 2012

Indian Territories - Late To The Party.

Among the new stamp issues I have just received from India is a single commemorative stamp which was issued on 19 December 2011 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the annexation of Goa, the former Portuguese colony in India. The territory had belonged to the Portuguese for 450 years before India launched a military invasion of Goa on 17 December 1961 with air raids and a naval assault taking place on the following day. The Portuguese surrendered on 19 December and India took possession of the territory. Goa was made the 29th state of India on 30 May 1987. The stamp interestingly gives no hint of the military nature of the "liberation" and appears to show nothing more innocuous than cheering crowds waving the Indian flag.
Goa was not the only piece of modern-day India not to be part of the Union when independence was achieved on 15 August 1947. The Nizam Of Hyderabad, the leading ruler of the Indian princely states during British rule, decided that Hyderabad would not join The Indian Union when independence was granted and after 15 August 1947 Hyderabad became an independent state in its own right. In 1948 the Hyderabad State Congress began to agitate against The Nizam with the support of Indian political parties and on 17 September 1948, Hyderabad's brief period of independence came to an end when Indian military forces took over control of the country. The Nizam was made the Rajpramukh (princely governor). Hyderabad did not really highlight its period of independence philatelically although a "post and receipt" stamp was issued during 1948.
Three stamps were also issued from 1947 to 1949 which bore the inscription "HEH The Nizam's Govt. Postage". The two lower values are shown below and depict the Power House at Hyderabad (1A 4ps) and Kaktyai Arch at Warangal Fort (3As). The highest value - the 6As - depicts Golkunda Fort.
Hyderabad had been the only Indian state to participate in the stamp omnibus which commemorated victory at the end of World War 2 and the stamp which was issued on 6 December 1945 showed a soldier returning home to his family at the end of the war, a memorable design, I think.
Another part of India to come late to the party was the Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim which had been a British protectorate from 1890. A plebiscite in 1947 rejected the notion of becoming part of India and the Indian government accorded it a special protectorate status. In the years after 1947 India controlled the external affairs and communications of Sikkim and the result was that the country never issued any postage stamps. Thus there are no stamps which recall the existence of Sikkim as a separate country apart from a stamp issued by neighbouring Bhutan on 1 October 1962 as part of that country's first definitive set. The 15ch value, shown below, depicts a map of the Himalayas and just discernible to the west of Bhutan is a small piece of territory identified on the stamp as belonging to Sikkim, then separate from India.
The ruler of Sikkim, the Chogyal, grew increasingly unpopular in the country and when riots broke out in front of the royal palace in 1973, a formal plea to the Indian government for protection resulted. Inevitably, an invasion by Indian forces followed and on 16 May 1975 the monarchy was abolished and Sikkim incorporated in India as the 22nd state of the Indian Union. Six stamps and a miniature sheet issued on 6 May 2007 by India commemorating the 2550th anniversary of the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha were particularly relevant to Buddhist Sikkim.
Finally one state that hesitated to join the Indian Union on independence in 1947 and only just made it to the party on time, was Travancore. The Maharajah was strongly opposed to the country's inclusion in the Indian Union but a number of uprisings occurred and an attempt was made on the life of the unpopular prime minister and when the Indians threatened military intervention the Maharajah signed the papers of accession on 12 August 1947 just in time for the state to be incorporated in the newly independent India. Travancore issued the stamp depicted below on 24 October 1946 to commemorate the 34th birthday of Maharaja Bala Rama Varma XI and presumably if the ruler had not signed the papers of accession in time it would have been one of the stamps in use in the newly independent country of Travancore.

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