The first stamp to be introduced in India, and in fact Asia, was the Scinde Dawk, introduced by the British in 1852. The name combined ‘Scinde’ a colonial British spelling of the province of Sindh and ‘Dawk’ after Dak, a local Indian name for postage. So why was the stamp first introduced in Sindh, instead of Calcutta, the capital of the British India? The answer lies in a complex web of geopolitics, economics and the opium trade.
In the 18th century, Sindh was ruled by a collection of Baluchi chiefs known as the Amirs of Sindh. These chiefs had repulsed many attacks by the Sikh armies of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab and were keen on maintaining their independence from the British. However, this was the era of the ‘Great Game’ where the British and the Russians were vying for power in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The British were very keen to control the Indus river so that the Russian threat could be checked. The Russians could have easily entered British India, through Afghanistan and Sindh.
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