Pin code MH-1718: In Antarctica, a post office with Indian address

News Excerpt:

The Department of Posts has opened a second branch of the post office at the Bharati research station in Antarctica.

About the News: 

  • India’s two research bases in Antarctica — Maitri and Bharati — are located 3,000 km apart. Notably, both branches are part of the Goa postal division. 
  • In 1984, shortly after India’s first foray to Antarctica, its first post office on the icy continent was set up at Dakshi Gangotri — the nation’s first scientific base there.
  • Dakshin Gangotri was submerged in ice in 1988-89 and was subsequently decommissioned. 
  • On January 26, 1990, a post office branch was set up at India’s Maitri research station in Antarctica.
  • The impression, ‘Maitri North Goa’, from the Antarctic research base is a famed “collector’s item”.
  • Almost four decades later, letters meant for Antarctica will now have a new PIN code, MH-1718, with the Department of Posts opening a second branch of the post office on the Bharati research station in Antarctica. The code currently assigned is “experimental”, which is the norm when a new branch begins.
  • In practice, the letters meant for the post office in Antarctica are sent to the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), the nodal agency for India’s polar expeditions, in Goa. 
  • When a scientific expedition to the continent leaves the NCPOR, a researcher is usually tasked with carrying the consignment of letters. 
  • At the research base, the letters are ‘cancelled’, brought back, and returned via post.
  • ‘Cancellation’ is a marking on a postage stamp or stationery done to deface the stamp and prevent reuse. 
    • Typically, ‘cancelled’ letters include the date and post office location where the stamps were mailed. 
    • For collectors, they are crucial to determine the value of stamps.


  • Antarctica is governed by the Atlantic Treaty, which puts aside territorial claims by any country, prohibits military activity or nuclear testing and underlines that the continent can only be used for scientific exploration.
  • Typically, an Indian post office can only be in the jurisdiction of Indian land. Antarctica gives us a unique opportunity to have an Indian post office in a foreign land that does not belong to us. 
  • So, it serves a strategic purpose in terms of asserting a presence on the continent.

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