Saturday, 15 October 2016

The Indian Post office

Read today that pulses will be available for sale in the wide network of the post offices across the length and breadth of India and that set me thinking, what next?? I think, just last year,it had been decided by the government that post offices will be used to distribute the holy Gangajal to the masses. I don't think I have to elaborate the importance of Gangajal for the Indian diaspora. After all, when I was a child, I had seen a small kamandalu of Gangajal being given the same importance and being worshipped by my grandmother at her home.

Till the 1990’s and even the early 2000’s, the Indian post office was a thriving institution. Yes, the fast mushrooming courier services were certainly a threat but the Post office had its own Tatkal courier service to compete against them. That time, I was not a direct user of their services but I remember making many visits to the post office, sometimes for buying stamps, the khaki colour letter cards, the blue coloured inland letters, posting of beautiful Diwali greetings, and many such uses, which were then an integral part of an Indian citizen’s life. Another benefit was the postal savings and my father used to deposit in my and my sister’s name, every month. But the advent of mobile phones and PC’s in homes and offices started the downfall of the institution called post office, to a great extent. People started sending sms’s and emails for all things, from official communications to wishing each other during festivals. Even when someone died, people just started sending RIP by sms's. It all became very impersonal. Sending Diwali greetings through beautiful cards was replaced by .gif messages through sms's or mms, which became the norm. This meant lesser and lesser usage of the postal service. Only the people wanting to send money to their loved ones staying in villages through a money order were using postal services. But smartphones, with their different money transfer options, threatened the system of money order. Today the few things which keep the post offices running are the patronage by mainly the working and lower middle class, who still find the different money savings options offered, a good bet, and some loyal customers who still swear by the services offered by the post offices. And the reasonable charges for the Tatkal courier seva, which continues to maintain its clientele.

I am sure, since the network of post offices across the country, are wide and reaching the far interiors, selling pulses through this network, at subsidised rates, is but one option explored by the government to keep the huge postal employee count occupied and also to fully exploit this wide network.

What next? Maybe, the government can use this wide network to reach its various subsidy schemes and yojanas to the diaspora of this great country so that the citizens are well aware of their rights and welfare benefits.

Yatindra Tawde

2 comments:

Saket said...

I like your description of the 90's post office which painted a picture. Though there is a hint of ridicule in the last paras about the postal guys having little work these days, your faith in the age old organization shows up for good.

Yatin Tawde said...

Thanks for your response. I didn't intend to ridicule but maybe it appeared so.

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