A commemorative postage stamp on Annie Besant :
Issued on Oct 1, 1963 (Tuesday)
Issued for : The Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department has great pleasure in bringing out a special stamp to honour this great lady. [The Stamp is wrongly dated, gives birth date as 1837 instead of 1847.]
Type : Stamp, Mint Condition
Colour : Blue Green
Denomination : 15 Naye Paise
Size : 3.3 cms x 2.9 cms
Perforation : 13½ x 14
Watermark : All over multiple ‘Lion Capital of Asoka’
Number Printed : 2.5 million
Set : 42 stamps per issue sheet
Printing process : Photogravure
Designed and printed at : India Security Press
Name : Annie Besant, née Wood
Born on Oct 1, 1847 at Clapham, London, United Kingdom
Died on Sep 20, 1933 at Adyar, Madras Presidency, British India [now in Karnataka, India]
- As one looks back to the decades of India‘s long struggle for freedom, few names stand out with greater glory of distinction than Dr. Annie Besant‘s. For forty years, from 1893 when she first landed in India until the moment of her death in 1933, she laboured for India’s advancement in every sphere of activity – educational, social, religious and political – with single-minded devotion and rare dedication.
- She was gifted with a prodigious intellect, tremendous organisational capacity, a courage of conviction which defied every penalty and obstacle, and a warm and generous heart. All these were placed without stint or hesitation at India’s disposal.
- For the first twenty years of her life in India, from 1893 to the commencement of the First World War, Mrs. Besant devoted all her energies and resources to the building up of the Central Hindu College at Varanasi, which later became the foundation on which Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya reared the Varanasi Hindu University. In collaboration with the distinguished Indian Philosopher, Dr. Bhagvan Das, she translated the Bhagvad–Gita into English, so as to make this priceless treasure accessible to millions who did not know Sanskrit. During this part of her Indian career, Mrs. Besant did her best to revive respect for the ancient teachings of Hinduism and the other great faiths which have their votaries in this country.
- Mrs. Besant was not content with merely proclaimed the goal of home rule for India as a unit in the British Commonwealth. At the end of the first world war, she declared in London before a Parliamentary Committee that India could not accept for all time a Constitution framed for her by the British Government in London. She proceeded, with the warm support of men like Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru and the Rt. Hon’ble V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, to have a Constitution for India as a full-fledged Dominion prepared through a National Convention. The measure, described later as “the Commonwealth of India Bill”, was supported by several leading Indian statesmen.
- Though the Commonwealth of India Bill made no further progress, the seed thus sown was destined to bear fruit at a later stage. India‘s Constituent Assembly, which was brought into being at the end of second world war in 1946, perhaps owed its original impulse in some measure to the joint efforts initiated a quarter of a century earlier by Mrs. Besant and Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru.
- Though Mrs. Besant passed away nearly three decades ago [at the time of the issuance of this stamp, i.e. 1963], her spirit still presides over many of India’s institutions. The ideals which she preached during her life-time are now materialising in the world of practical realities. Looking back over the long period of preparation for freedom and its final achievement, one can only marvel at the incredible record of Mrs. Besant’s services to India spread over a period of forty years.