Indian Americans campaign for Diwali stamp
A campaign to get the US postal service to issue a Diwali stamp has revved up ahead of the Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) meeting later this month.
Just a few weeks after the CSAC rejected a stamp for late Dalip Singh Saund of California, Indian Americans are hoping it will approve a Diwali stamp they have been working on for the last four years.
They have launched an Internet petition drive.
"I am told five years is the usual incubation period for such a request," Shailendra Kumar, an urologist in Maryland who has been among the leaders of the campaign. "We are starting this drive because we don't want to leave any stone unturned."
Last May, 25 Representatives led by Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Joe Crowley of New York sent a letter to US Postmaster General John Potter, urging him to issue a Diwali stamp just like those issued for Christmas, Dwanzaa, Hanukkah and, most recently, Eid.
"Today we have more than 30 and though a vast majority of those who have supported us are Democrats, there are also Republicans like Joe Wilson with his legislative aide Dino Teppara," Kumar said, concluding that some 45 congressmen and senators on the Capitol Hill were behind issuing such a stamp.
One resolution in the House introduced by Congressman Frank Pallone and one resolution in the Senate sponsored by Senator Arlen Specter have also urged the same, he said.
"We have to have parity in the recognition of functions. This is what our country is all about," Kumar contended. "Besides, we have argued that this stamp also would signify a recognition of the contributions of Indian Americans - from space technology to physicians working in ghettos to Olympics and now even the US Congress."
Some experts told that the stamp being issued was not a matter of 'if' but 'when', said Kumar.
"Diwali's recognition by the US Postal Department (USPD) will also honour a civilisation that has the merit of being a continuous propagation for 6,000 years, and Diwali is celebrated not just by Hindus but also Sikhs and even Christians. It's like Christmas," he contended.
"If there is a significant sale they will bring the stamp every year. They look at the economics of it. So it will cater to not just the two million Indian Americans but all those who believe in non-violence and freedom."
The latest petition writing drive has garnered 100,000 letters, Kumar said. Their cause may be helped by the fact that President George W. Bush has held Diwali celebrations on Nov 10 for two years running.
The USPD meets quarterly nearly 20 out of 50,000 such requests per year.