If India is to be independent, it needs to handle it’s own humanitarian relief

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. We have an interesting story to tell of creating local institutions that allow a new nation to be truly independent.

The stamp today if from India but frankly I do not find the design inspiring. Which to me is disappointing, because the story the stamp tells is quite the opposite. The printing and paper are sub par but to me the picture on the stamp is the big problem. The picture looks to be a white Christian nun looking after a sick native Indian. Mother Theresa of course is proof that just such a situation happened in India, and Mother Theresa has been honoured by an Indian stamp. But this stamp honors the local branch of the red cross organization. The Indians themselves saw the need for the red cross in India, saw that the efforts of the British Red Cross in India, though laudable, were inadequate to the need. So they set out their own division and way back in 1920, long before independence was actually achieved. Many new nations were forming in the post world war two period, but few had the institutions in place to be truly independent. India was one, and that was a credit to the British for allowing the institutions to develop  but mainly to the Indian people for themselves rising to the challenge.

The stamp today is issue A303, a 20 paise stamp issued by India on November 5th, 1970. It was a single stamp issue celebrating the 50th anniversary  of the founding of the Indian branch of the Red Cross Society. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 65 cents in it’s cancelled state.

The Red Cross was founded after conditions for wounded on the battlefield were intolerably bad. This was around 1860 and the weapons of war had gotten more deadly and it was time that more was done for the wounded, no matter the side. Nations agreed that the Red Cross workers were all to be considered non combatants. Local societies of the Red Cross were founded in many countries and their role expanded to include relief in natural disasters as well as war.

1920 was a time when India was facing many returned World War I veterans. The British Indian army was a major asset of Great Britain was used extensively in the first world wide war. Serving war veterans is still an important role for the Indian Red Cross. A free home for disabled veterans in maintained to this day in Bangalore.

The main role today of the Red Cross in India, as in the USA is disaster relief and they pride themselves in arriving quickly after a natural disaster. While the organization is not evangelical and makes a point of helping all or no faiths, it is easy to see how help after a disaster is a great way to display God’s love.

In action today in India, the Indian Red Cross makes a point how mature the country is. It is a lot more about raising awareness of health issues and filling in gaps such as HIV. Very similar to the USA and very unlike a failed state red cross presence where outsiders come in to help and have no need to explain needs.

Well my drink is empty and I notice that the 100 anniversary of the Indian Red Cross Society is coming up in 2020. I hope the Indian postal authority remembers and does  a great stamp to honour 100 years of good works. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.