Post Independence, using the cold war rivalry to extract aid was big business in Asia. 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. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.
The stamp today is from Australia. Australia was a founding, donor country to the aid program. Celebrating the anniversary of an aid program is a delicate thing to do on a stamp of a donor country. There is a natural tendency to help those in need at home first. In addition an anniversary naturally brings questions of what there is to show for the money spent. A difficult question to answer for the skeptical. The stamp designers get around it with a generic emblem and not telling you what the “Colombo Plan” is. Also notice that the denomination is too high for a regular letter, meaning fewer stamps in circulation. Figure it out for yourself stamp user. Or better yet read on.
The stamp today is issue A123, a one schilling stamp issued on June 30th, 1961. It was a single stamp issue celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Colombo Plan of economic development aid in Asia. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 30 cents used.
In 1949, the Indian ambassador to China, K. M. Panikkar, went to his British and Australian counterparts and suggested an aid program. It was to be used to fight communism in the newly independent nations of Asia. Remember that India was newly independent and the Communists had just taken over mainland China. The main thrust was to be economic development and educational opportunities. In proposing the USA pay for the bulk of it, Amb. Panikkar was able to successfully make his case. The USA paid the lion’s share of the cost and the program began based in Colombo, Ceylon, (now Sri lanka), in 1951.
The most obvious benefit of the aid program were the educational opportunities afforded. Among those that benefited are national leaders of Singapore and Nepal, and several prominent Indian scientists. In Ceylon itself the main beneficiary seems to have been the multi-language Ceylon radio service that did much in the 50s and 60s to bring an Asian perspective to the region.
With the end of the cold war, Britain and Canada dropped out of the program but the USA stayed on. The program was reorganized to take on environmental and gender issues in addition to continuing the educational opportunities. It is interesting to contemplate that gender and environmental issues are energized mostly on the left end of the political spectrum. Yet the program was specifically designed to be anti communist. Another case where the people that populate the program decide what it actually does. The vast bulk of people that get into this line or work will be left of center. The Colombo Plan is still around today.
Well my drink is empty so I will open the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.