Washington: Efforts to have a Diwali postage stamp received a big push Thursday when over 1,300 letter petitions, in addition to 400,00 signatures in an online campaign, were presented to US Postal Service by influential lawmakers and community leaders at the Capitol Hill.
A top postal official hoped that the long awaited decision on this could come in as soon as two weeks.
"I am optimistic that the Citizens Stamp Advisory Commission (of the US Postal Service) will respond favorably to the 1,300 signatures presented today, and the 400,000 signatures presented in the online campaign," Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney told a news agency after presenting these petitions to Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman.
Maloney was joined by Ami Bera, the only serving Indian-American in the current Congress, and the Indian American couple from New York - Ravi and Ranju Batra - who led the petition campaign, in presenting these Diwali postage stamp petitions to the Deputy Postmaster General.
"Today`s meeting with the Deputy Postmaster General is another important step on the road to a Diwali stamp," said Maloney who has been instrumental in gathering about 40 lawmakers in writing a joint Congressional letter to the Citizens Stamps Advisory Committee on the need to issue a postage stamp commemorating Diwali.
Among them include Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu lawmaker in the US Congress.
It is on behalf of the Postmaster General, the Citizens` Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) is tasked with evaluating the merits of all stamp proposals. Though the committee can only advise the Postmaster General, its advice is always adhered to by the US Postal Service.
It is learnt that the issue of Diwali stamp is the only agenda item on the CSAC, which is scheduled to meet this week.
"A Diwali stamp has been long overdue," Bera told PTI, hoping that with hundreds of people writing letters and thousands signing online petitions, the USPS would finally take a call on it and move forward.
"This makes sense," Bera said referring that almost all the major religions and communities in the US have a postage stamp. "There is a tremendous excitement across the Indian American and across the Hindu community. I think, we made a pretty compelling case," he said.
"I think it will happen," a confident Bera said and urged the Indian-American community to write letters to the CSAC.
Noting that the USPS has an independent body of distinguished people who make decisions on the stamp, Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman said the CSAC would be looking at the issue of Diwali stamp over the next two weeks.
"Hopefully, we should have a decision very very soon," Stroman said.