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Forgotten Biography

Shri G. Madan Mohan Das

G. Madan Mohan DasShri G. Madan Mohan Das, (b. April 1, 1923 - d. January 11, 2014) or ‘Madanbhai’ as he was affectionately called by his admirers was the uncrowned king of philately in Chennai. He was from a Gujarati business family, originally from Surat that had settled in Tamil Nadu over three centuries ago.

His father was a shipping agent and in his childhood he often went to the harbour with his father. There, in the dust bins in the offices and outside, he would see used postal envelopes from all over the world, with colourful stamps affixed on them. He started collecting them, and soon it became an all-absorbing hobby.

Madan Mohan Das graduated from St. Joseph’s College, Trichy, and started his career in banking with the Indian Bank in Chennai in 1948. His job took him to Bombay in 1950 where he made friends with the well-known philatelists of that era, like J.N. Cooper, R.F. Shroff, R. Wadia and Dhirubhai Mehta. He learnt from them all the subtleties and refinements of ‘philately’. He developed an interest in collecting Indian Classics, Indian Postal History. He also took up a deep study of the lithography of early Indian stamps. His expertise in the field was such that he could detect the die of any stamp by studying the minutest details that would not be perceptible to an untrained eye. Over the decades, Madan Mohan Das won many Gold medals for his collections of Indian Classics, Postal History and Lithography, at various philatelic exhibitions held at the State level as well as at the National level.

In 1956, he along with his younger brother Balakrishna Das, gathered together a group of enthusiastic philatelists of Chennai and formed the South India Philatelists’ Association (SIPA). The first meeting of the six founding members was held in a church in Broadway on December 30, 1956. In 1980, SIPA started publishing a bi-monthly news letter on philately called the SIPA Bulletin. He headed SIPA and was editor of the Bulletin for many decades.

He served on the Philatelic Advisory Committee of the Government of India for some years. He also served on a number of occasions as a member of the jury at national level philatelic exhibitions. He acted National Commissioner for India for two international philatelic exhibitions held in Bangkok in 1993, and Seoul in 2004.

Source : Madras Musings
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