India personalised stamps 'big hit' in Mumbai

A postal employee sorts through ordered sets of special postage stamps featuring photographs of common citizens in Mumbai
Image caption The Mumbai postal authorities have marketed the scheme aggressively

A scheme launched by India's postal authorities that allows people to pay for their photos to be printed on stamps has become a hit in the western city of Mumbai (Bombay), officials say.

More than 650 people have registered to take part since the scheme opened on Friday and many more are interested.

Called My Stamp, the scheme allows photographs to be printed on a five-rupee (10 US cent) stamp.

The scheme is aimed at boosting philately and letter writing.


"We are overwhelmed by the response. Parents, grandparents, children, and even people from villages have turned up to get pictures of themselves, friends and relatives on stamps," Abha Singh, director of postal services for Maharashtra, told the BBC.

"A lot of people are gifting the stamps to their grandchildren. It is like creating your own history."

Only 3,500 people - paying 300 rupees ($6) each to put personalised pictures on a set of 12 stamps - will be able to take part in the scheme, which closes on Saturday.

The stamps contain the personalised picture and a backdrop based on Indian themes - folklore, sun signs and monuments, for example.

Postal authorities have hired photographers to take pictures of the customers for the personalised stamps at Mumbai's main post office.

Image caption Relatives are keen to have children on the stamps

Though My Stamp has been launched in Delhi and Indian-administered Kashmir, it failed to evoke the same amount of interest as in Mumbai, correspondents say.

One reason could be that the postal authorities in India's financial and entertainment capital have marketed the plan aggressively.

Sixty-year-old Rani Poddar was one of the first customers and has ordered more than 2,500 stamps bearing pictures of her grandson and other family members.

She told the BBC that she had done it to surprise her 15-year-old grandson Sukrit Goel, who lives in Delhi.

"I came to know of the scheme through the papers. I want my grandson to know that I can still surprise him. When I get the stamps on Tuesday, I want to send a letter with his stamp. I will be putting pictures of other members of my family on the stamps too," she said.

With 155,000 post offices, the state-run India Post runs the largest postal network in the world. The majority of the post offices are in rural areas.

Though personal mail has fallen rapidly due to rising use of electronic mail, business mail still provides considerable traffic.

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