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Topical Philately Related to Mohandas K. Gandhi

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On 31st May 2007, the Sixty first session of the United Nations General Assembly considered a resolution on the International Day of Non-ViolenceThis was followed by the Introduction of the Draft Resolution  by Mr. Anand Sharma, Minister of State for External Affairs, New Delhi,  at the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly on 15th June 2007.  At the 103rd Meeting (AM) of the Plenary Session of the Sixty-first General Assembly on 15th June 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a text of the  resolution.  On October 2nd, 2007, the UN General Assembly observed the first International Day of Non-Violence, with an address by Sonia Gandhi Chairperson of the United Nations Progressive Alliance.

The United Nations Postal Administration in New York City prepared a special cachet to commemorate this event, following a request from the Indian Ambassador at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN.  The boxed pictorial cachet design was prepared by the UNPA and was limited to cancellation at UNPA's NY location (not Geneva and Vienna).  The UNPA has indicated that all outgoing UNPA mail between October 2nd and 31st carried the cachet.

The UNPA NY prepared 500 covers with this commemorative cachet for the UN Indian Mission upon request.  The cachet was applied to the official blue Indian Mission envelope, with the October 2, 2007 data cancel tied to two UN stamps- the 5c definitive (issued 7 May 1993) and the 20c definitive (issued 5 September 1995).  These covers do not represent usage at any valid postage rate.  The UNPA confirmed that the covers that were prepared for the Indian Mission was a special event souvenir item and was not intended to be placed in the mail-stream. Therefore, although the postage rate of twenty-five cents is insufficient for mailing purposes, it is valid for hand-back cancellations and was treated as such by the UNPA.

The blue-colored souvenir cover was prepared as one of the steps taken to publicize the Day. This cover was handed out as a free memento to those interested amongst the attendees of the four functions relating to the first International Day of Non-Violence that were held at the UN premises in New York on 2 October 2007: (1) the informal plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly, (2) a Round Table, (3) an exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi, and (4) a film on Mahatma Gandhi. The souvenir cover was meant to be a low-cost keepsake and memento of the Day. It did not go through the mail.  The name of the Permanent Mission of India was got printed on the cover so that recipients would know that it was being distributed courtesy the Indian Mission, as distinct from the UN/UNPA (this information courtesy of H. E. Mr. Ajai Malhotra, Ambassador/DPR, Permanent Mission of India to the UN).

The host of this website requested that a set of the three official cachet covers (Figure 2) representing all three UN postal agencies (New York, Geneva and Vienna) be prepared with this commemorative cachet.  One hundred such sets were prepared, with the Oct 2 date cancel tied to the 5c definitive (issued 7 May 1993)  and the 37c disarmament definitive (issued 15 October 2004).

* To order limited quantities of this set of 3 UN official cachet covers shown above, Email us at gandhi@topicalphilately.com.  PayPal accepted. *

Local resident in NYC also had a few air letters prepared for mailing to their friends and family, with the Oct 2nd date cancel and the cachet.  Ben Ramkissoon from Chicago had requested that a set of 100 air letters (90c face value) be prepared with the Oct 2 date cancel on behalf of Pradip Jain of Patna, India.  Interestingly, the UNPA made a mistake while preparing this order and the cachet was instead on air letters with the August 9 2007 first day cancellation for the new 90c air letter rate.  The UNPA subsequently corrected this error and prepared another set of 100 air letters for Ben Ramkissoon with the correct Oct 2nd date (long after October 2nd).  Note the machine cancel that was applied to this set, as opposed to the hand cancelled date stamps applied earlier.

One philatelist from the UK ordered a few sets of official cachet covers from all three UNPA bureaus in late October, franked with appropriate US, Austrian and Swiss stamps from the "Peaceful Visions" commemorative series.  The covers were prepared by UNPA New York with this commemorative cachet and subsequently processed by all three UNPA bureaus with back dated October 2, 2007 date cancels.  This is the second example of documented back-dating of the UN date cancel (this time by all three bureaus and not the result of correcting an order processing error they had made- as was the case with Ben Ramkissoon's order).

Overseas, the declaration of the International Day of Non-Violence was commemorated with a special pictorial cancel from the Gandhi Ashram PO, Ahmedabad, India.  This cancel was applied to a 50c Gandhi postal card along with a pre-printed message commemorating the events of October 2, 2007.  The cancel was also applied to a special cover prepared for Oct 2 2007 by the Gujarat Philatelic Association.  The same Gandhi Ashram PO (PIN 380027) also prepared a special Speed Post slogan cancel reading INTERNATIONAL DAY- NON VIOLENCE.