Special Content


Issue no 28, 09-15 October 2021

Aapka Dost, India Post World Post Day Special

For more than 150 years, the Department of Posts (DoP) has been the backbone of communication and has played a crucial role in India's socialeconomic development. It touches the lives of Indian citizens in many ways: delivering mails, accepting deposits under Small Savings Schemes, providing life insurance cover under Postal Life Insurance (PLI) and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI), and provide retail services like bill collection and sale of forms. The DoP also provides last-mile delivery of essential government schemes and services to the country's citizens.

What is World Post Day?

World Post Day is celebrated each year on 9th October, the anniversary of establishing the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1874 in Berne. It was declared as World Post Day by the UPU Congress held in Tokyo, Japan, in 1969, and since then, is celebrated worldwide to highlight the importance of the postal services. The purpose of World Post Day is to create awareness of the role of the postal sector in people's lives and businesses and its contribution to the socio-economic development of countries. The celebration encourages member countries to undertake activities to generate a broader awareness of the role of postal services. The UPU (a specialized agency of the United Nations) has 191 member countries, including India.

 India Post celebrates National Postal Week from 9th to 15th October every year to generate broad awareness about India Post's role and activities among the public and media at the national level. As part of National Postal Week, DoP celebrates Savings Bank Day, Mails Day, Philately Day, Business Development Day, and Postal Life Insurance Day.

History of Postal Services in India

The origin of this vast postal network can be traced back to the year 1727, when the first Post Office was set up in Kolkata. Subsequently, General Post Offices (GPOs) were set up in the then three Presidency-towns of Kolkata in 1774, Chennai in 1786, and Mumbai in 1793.

 The Indian Post Office Act of 1837 was enacted to bring about uniformity in postal operations. This Act was followed by the more comprehensive Indian Post Office Act of 1854, which laid the foundation of the modern-day postal system in the country. In the same year, Railway Mail Service was introduced, and the Sea Mail Service started from India to Great Britain and China. The Indian Post Office Act of 1898 further strengthened the postal system in the country.

India Post

India Post touches the lives of Indian citizens in many ways: delivering mails, accepting deposits under Small Savings Schemes, providing life insurance cover under Postal Life Insurance (PLI) and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI), and providing retail services like bill collection, UIDAI related services, sale of forms, etc. The DoP also acts as an agent for the Government of India in discharging other services such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme wage disbursement, scholarships, and old-age pension payments. With more than 1.5 lakh Post Offices (nearly 90% or 1.4 lakh post offices are located in rural areas), the DoP has the most widely distributed postal network in the world.

 While the core activity of the Department is processing, transmission, and delivery of mail and money remittance across the country, there is also a diverse range of other services undertaken by the Department for more than a century, which include banking and insurance services. The Postmaster/ Postman enjoys high credibility. With allIndia reach and with local office/workforce capacity, India Post delivers social services and ensures financial inclusion in all rural/remote areas.

Over the past two decades, the world has seen a rapid transformation. With Globalization, the rise of the Internet, and the popularity of mobile telephony, traditional postal services may be fast losing their relevance. However, India Post has taken the right step at the right time by venturing into the field of financial services.

Services offered also include:

(i) Banking and Financial Services: Post Office Savings Bank, a bouquet of deposit instruments, instant payment-intoaccount facilities (India Post Payments Bank), ATM, e- Banking, MNREGA wage payments, National Pension System.

(ii) Insurance Products: Postal Life Insurance, Rural Postal Life Insurance, crop insurance, health, accident, and general insurance.

(iv) Distribution of third-party products: Provision of e-services for the general public; miscellaneous bill collection and payment activities; provision of information to Government Departments and Private sector and facilitation of documents, certificates, application forms (over 300 services), all on a commercial basis.

(v) Management of government services: This includes delivery of several government services like Aadhaar services, Kisan Vikas Patras, Sukanya Samriddhi accounts, Jeevan Pramaan, National Savings Certificates, Jan Suraksha Schemes.

(vi) Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana:  A an-India Scholarship Programme was launched in 2017 by the Government of India to promote the welfare of school children and increase Philately's reach.

(vii) Post Office as Passport Seva Kendras: The service started after the DoP and the Ministry of External Affairs agreed to leverage the network of Post Offices as Passport Seva Kendras to provide passport services to citizens on a larger scale.

(viii) Single point of contact for all the citizen-centric Services: The DoP and Common Service Centre (CSC) eGovernance Services India Limited, promoted by Meity (the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) have signed a memorandum of agreement to provide Assisted Digital Services for various G2C (government to citizen) and B2C (business to customer) using CSC's Digital Sewa portal.

India Post during COVID-19

The postal service was declared as one of the essential services during the period of lockdown. The Department of Posts leveraged its vast network of more than 1.57 lakh post offices and 4,00,000 postal employees on the ground to provide delivery of essential services to the citizens at their doorsteps, even in the remotest corners of the country.

In order to facilitate doorstep delivery of essential services, "Post Info" mobile application was developed to receive service requests from customers who could not come to the post offices.

 Beyond their service of delivering mails and schemes, they moved essential medicines for people, equipment for medical institutions, and even distributed food, ration, and PPE kits to needy people. Department of Posts, through its innovative Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS), served more than 3.27 crore beneficiaries by rendering financial assistance at their doorsteps.

 Consequent to the suspension of train and flight services across the country, the mail Motor Service played a stellar role in ensuring the regular movement of essential goods, i.e., medicines, medical equipment, ventilators, COVID testing kits, etc. and other postal articles booked/ posted by the general public, hospital, and various public and private sector laboratories.

Innovations

(i)  To have a digital footprint of the clearance of public letterboxes, the Department of Posts has implemented electronic clearance of letterboxes through in-house developed "Nanyatha" software.

(ii) To put in place a mechanism to track the transmission of unregistered mail, which was hitherto handled manually, the Department of Posts has introduced barcoded bag labels for unregistered bags to improve the quality of service for unregistered mail.

(iii) Under the Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for a New India (DARPAN) project, the Department of Posts has provided SIM-based handheld devices to 1,29,159 Branch Post Offices all over the country for carrying out online postal and financial transactions.

(Compiled by Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan) Source : Department of Posts