Saturday 15 June 2013

After the telegraph: To remain viable, the postal department must explore new vistas

First it was the pigeon post and now the telegram. From July 15, India Post's telegram services will be discontinued for the first time in over 160 years - a result of the human genius that has wrought a technological revolution that compressed both time and space in the world of communication. There may come a time when the internet will be ubiquitous and India Post will no longer be essential. While that may yet be a long way off, the department of post could pull the struggling public service from a loss-incurring institution into a healthy enterprise.

India Post has touched the life of every citizen in every remote corner of the country. While it has an impressive network of about three lakh Post Offices, it has scarcely done enough to innovate or function as a commercial agency and compete with rivals in the private sector. The drive to computerise operations has been unsatisfactory. The promise to provide value-added services, like the much-touted anywhere-anytime banking, automated mail processing centres and the mail network optimisation project, has not been fully met, pushing customers into the arms of private companies.

Tapping the full potential of the vast postal network, with post offices numbering almost four times the number of rural bank branches and having a much larger customer base, requires that it reinvents itself as the hub of ongoing financial inclusion and information technology initiatives. It should scale up its operations in delivery of insurance,mutual fundspensionproducts and direct cash transfers. It must venture into registration of Aadhaar numbers and tie up with private companies to become the digital hub in far-flung rural areas. This will ensure that it re-emerges as a financially viable and vibrant institution that marches with the times.

Source : The Times of India

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