Sunday, 2 November 2014

Year of the Tiger, WWF stamp and Mohan Narsingh Rana

Some thirty years ago, I started collecting stamps. A pair of forceps, a magnifying glass and two stamp albums were the most coveted possession I had in those days. And nagging my father and his friends, to give me the envelopes of the letters they received, was a routine work for me.

The psychology of hoarding stamps slowly turned me into a serious philatelist and within a decade I was a proud owner of stamps from over 150 countries. My favourite subjects of collection were famous scientists, monuments, flora and fauna.

WWF stamps, a craze among collectors
WWF stamps are always in demand among collectors and my love for the stamps made me push for a commemorative stamp for the Year of the Tiger campaign being led throughout the world by WWF. Earlier the Government of Nepal had issued a set of four WWF stamps showcasing endangered animals.

In early 2010, I was leading The Year of the Tiger campaign in Nepal and when discussing the idea of issuing a WWF stamp with the senior management team, I got the hint that it was a tough task.

Mohan Narsingh Rana, a perfectionist and designer par excellence
However, when one of my colleagues from WWF and I met with Mohan Narsingh Rana at the Departmental of Postal Services, I sniffed the smell of success at first sight itself. I could see the twinkle in his eyes when we told him about the stamp. He was always interested in designing stamps for special occasions. And it was a special occasion indeed.

He was not a big man. But it was his confidence and conviction that won over his thin and frail frame. His silvery white hair, moustache and beard added to his impressive personality.

Appreciating our plan, he detailed out the steps needed to design the stamp. The steps he spelled out were rigorous but doable. It was his experience of designing more than 300 stamps for the Government of Nepal and his reputation of coming up with excellent designs, he never compromised on standards.

Being a perfectionist, he wanted to be at the tiger habitats, either in Chitwan National Park or in Bardia National Park, visit the forest and if possible get to see a real tiger. He wanted to get the real feeling of a tiger habitat. He was not convinced drawing a tiger from available photographs.  Instead he preferred a camera trap image. That’s how you do justice to your work. In the final design, the tiger seemed to emerge out of its lair, the dense forest.
(c) WWF Nepal

Commemorative stamp for the Year of the Tiger
Finally, in commemoration of the Year of the Tiger 2010, the Department of Postal Services of the Government of Nepal issued the WWF tiger postal stamps. The then Prime Minister of Nepal Madhav Kumar Nepal introduced the stamps by applying the first day of issue cancellation to the Rs 5 denomination stamp.

What started as a hobby became one of the most satisfying moments of my life!

I had never thought that I would one day contribute to issuing a WWF commemorative stamp. However, it all happened. Thanks to Mr Rana, he understood the gravity of The Year of the Tiger and accepted to design the stamp. I feel the stamp was helpful in raising awareness about tiger conservation not only in Nepal but also in countries where the stamps reached piggybacking on the envelopes sent out of Nepal.

Rest in peace Mr Rana
Mr Rana was suffering from throat cancer and left this world early this year. He devoted his 36 precious years designing stamps of different colours, shapes and sizes highlighting various issues. And one of them is the WWF commemorative stamp for the Year of the Tiger 2010.  

I have in my collection a mint sheet of The Year of the Tiger stamp. And it is the most coveted possession that I have. Rest in peace Mr Rana!