The Department of Posts is arguably the largest, most well known and most accessible institution of the Government. In fact it is the largest postal network in the world. Post Offices provide the critical and literal last mile connectivity in India – definitely for the govt., and even for domestic and international posts and parcels. Services like Speed Post have been benchmarks in the industry. The Department can play a critical role in furthering the endeavour of the Government for all round growth in social and economic sectors – especially in the rural areas. It will also be the most appropriate vehicle for financial inclusion initiatives (Post Offices are already involved with MNREGA). Riding on the trust that citizens of the country have on this 150-years-old organisation, the Post Office network should be leveraged for more and better citizen-centric services’. It would be difficult to argue with these views of the Union Minister for Communications and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad. At the recent annual Heads of Circles’ Conference of the Department of Posts, held at Gurgaon, Panel Discussions were held on some most relevant and strategic issues of:
Rural Business (including financial inclusion)
Postal Life Insurance
Postal Financial Services
IT, Training and Capacity Building.
Going forward, the Department of Posts should become an integral player in Physical, Electronic and Financial services - where Swift, Safe and Sure is the hallmark (though in India we also need to add ‘Economical’). The Department has already started ramping up on e Commerce business and now needs to build an appropriate logistics framework. Its application for a Payments Bank licence is under active consideration. The Minister has also asked the Department of Posts to strategise on how it could utilise the vacant ‘Postal lands’ across the country and prevent their encroachment – while also exploring the possibility of floating an SPV for this purpose. Since the motivation of the people, especially at the Post Office level, would be key, it would be wise to allay all their fears and motivate them to be more transparent, responsible and accountable. ‘Dakiyas’ were once the most trusted and most welcome of govt. servants…and they can be so again, in modern avatars.
There are over 1.5 lakhs Post Offices across the country, almost 90% in rural areas; there are over 5.5 lakhs Letter Boxes. On an average, a Post Office serves an area of about 20 sq. km. and over 7,000 people. Almost 16,000 million (16 billion) mails are delivered every year.
Post Offices are still the lifeline in rural India – for mails, parcels, money transfer, pension, insurance, social security services, and of course stamps and coins. Post Offices have already contributed well to some of PM Modi’s initiatives: more than 44 lakh accounts have been opened under the ‘Sukanya Samridhi Yojna’, and more than 28 lakh Kisan Vikas Patra certificates, worth Rs 2,600 crores, have been sold.