By : Alkesh Tyagi : For over 150 years post offices have been the most visible and popular face of the Indian Government throughout the country. The concept of e-governance i.e Government at your desktop being advocated and promoted today can trace its genesis in services rendered by Post Offices, when the Postman was the only person delivering mail personally at the doorstep of the people. Now India Post is gearing up to play more comprehensive role by reorienting itself to meet the expectations of future generations.
The Indian economy has scaled new height over the last few years and is still in acceleration mode. Emergence of several significant trends such as: liberalisation and globalisation; demographic shift towards urbanisation leading to increasing internal and external migration requiring to be serviced; monetisation of the economy especially the agricultural sector giving rise to a corresponding demand for financial services by all sections of the population; and government policy to increase funding for weaker section programs has necessitated changes in postal framework.
The four main areas of services offered by India Post are- Communication Services- Delivering letters, post card etc; Transportation Services- Transporting parcels, logistics etc; Financial Services- Facilitating saving bank, money order, insurance etc and Value added Services- Providing speed post service, business post, direct post etc.
Transmission and delivery of mail is India Post’s core business so far. Post Office Savings Bank is the oldest and largest banking institution in the country. Transmission of funds by postal order/money order has been the traditional way of money transfer. Since 1884 onwards Postal Life Insurance (PLI) has been providing life insurance coverage, initially to employees of P&T Department and subsequently to all Government employees. Since 1995 PLI has been extended to the rural population of the country under a new scheme Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI).
Globalization and the deepening of market mechanism in India have brought forward the concept of self sufficiency and social service going hand in hand. India Post is committed to fulfil the Universal Service Obligation for providing basic postal service throughout the country, irrespective of terrain, at an affordable price. India Post fulfils this obligation through the largest postal network of 1, 55,035 Post Offices (as on 31.3.08) in the world. Of these 1, 25, 489 Branch Post Offices cater exclusively to rural areas.
Besides new responsibility of facilitating applications under Right to Information is being shouldered by the post offices.
To meet the challenges posed by ever changing communication technology especially mobile telephony and World Wide Web, Department of Post is attempting to transform it, striking a balance between its objectives and outcomes of transformation. As the transformation is a multi dimensional process attempt is being made to change the Department at multiple levels.
In order to provide better, faster and satisfactory services to its customers, India Post is focusing on few key areas. Pick up mail facility, electronically enabled services, a dedicated freighter services, the instant money order, and many other similar initiatives have been undertaken to reorient the services for providing greater satisfaction to its customer. At the same time, for self sufficiency, India Post is exploring the role of business facilitator for other organisations.
Dedicated Freighter Service
In an effort to deliver the mail, parcel, speed post and the logistic consignments by the next day in major cities, India Post has added two more aircrafts bringing the total number to three and the process to acquire the fourth is in pipeline. These three aircrafts dedicated to carry only postal cargo touch nine cities every night making possible faster delivery in major cities and their peripheral areas.
An initiative to transform India Post into a vibrant and responsive organisation is going on under the ‘Project Arrow’. Under the Project 50 Post Offices were modernized in the first phase and 450 in the second phase. Now the third phase is under process for transforming 500 post offices. Selected post offices are undergoing complete overhaul in their look and feel as well as in their core functions and operations. Systematic transformation of post offices in a phased manner will revitalise India Post.
The new logo of India Post reflects this change. The straight lines have been replaced by bold strokes retaining the ‘wings’ element. There is an element of modernity with a conscious effort to maintain an element of continuity. Red and Yellow colours used in its logo convey passion, power and commitment with a pinch of hope, joy and happiness.
IT leads Initiatives
Efforts are on to equip post offices with latest communication means. All the post offices in the country will be computerised during the current five year plan. Major 25,000 post offices have already been computerized and the remaining branch post offices will be taken care during rest of the period. This will make the delivery of information and money order faster.
Nation Wide reach of India Post has attracted many private partners. Be it Mutual funds or money transfer business. Since 2001 DOP has been making select mutual fund product available through post offices. Five years ago UTI Mutual Fund and Department of Post joined hands to bring capital markets closer to common man in semi urban and rural areas. India Post provides penetration to the remotest corners of India making mutual fund popular.
Recognising the crucial role, India Post was facilitated on 24th September 2009 with UTI-CNBC special commendation award in the form of “Financial Advisor Awards 08-09” trophy for effectively utilizing its network to promote financial inclusion in smaller places.
An efficient and reliable communication network is the lifeline of the nation and plays a crucial role in socio-economic development and the integration of the country. For nearly a century and half the Postal System has been the main component of the communication infrastructure for the country. Given the need for a strong communication and financial infrastructure, India Post is preparing to meet both challenges and avail of the opportunities presented by current market conditions. With its efforts India Post will make social, commercial and industrial life possible in the remotest parts of India. Though, traditionally India Post have been the courier of peoples’ emotions and trust but changing with times will make India Post even more attractive and useful because of its reach and credibility.