Not many postal systems around the world can claim to be healthy, kicking and ready for the future after nearly 180 years of operations. India’s postal system was first organized for nationwide service in 1837 by the British.
The world’s largest postal network: Today, it has the world’s largest number of post offices in its network –including a floating post office and the world’s highest post office. It is also India’s second largest employer after the Indian Railways.
The number of post offices has grown seven fold from 23,344 around Independence to over 1, 54,882 at the last count in 2014. Nearly 89.96% of these post offices are located in rural areas. It is this incredible reach of India Post that is unrivalled across urban and rural India. For instance, India Post has twice the number of post offices than all the branches of all the banks combined!
Also find: List of Post Offices in India.
What distinguishes India Post from Banks?
The mission and charter of India Post are different from those of most commercial banks. The raison d’etre for India Post is not mere profit. It has a larger purpose in life.
- The Department of Posts comes under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and has a socio-economic development role to play. Unlike banks, its mandate includes providing every citizen in the country with communication, banking, financial and insurance services. It does so with mail, parcel, money transfer, banking, insurance, retail services, philately and more!
- The other major difference is that India Post is the government’s agent for providing last mile delivery of government schemes to the poor. These include distributing old age pensions, scholarships, and rural employment guarantee schemes for the weaker sections of society.
The strengths of India Post
- The reach of India Post in the large hinterland gives it an unassailable position unmatched by all banks.
- India Post also fills the gap in services where bank branches do not exist or where the internet is not available.
- No other organization has the width and depth of value –for-money services that India Post offers to the common citizen: mail services, financial services, retail services, philately and even premium products such as Speed Post, Business Post, and Express Parcel etc.
- It enjoys great credibility and trust having handled financial services for the common man since the 1880s.
- Services offered are value-for-money compared to commercial banks as there are few frills in the postal world and the tariffs are rationalized for the common citizen.
- While modern banking is getting impersonal with the use of technology, India Post retains it connect with its customers and understands their specific needs such as money orders delivered at home, small value transactions in the savings account etc.
- Many savings and investment instruments offered by India Post are secure as they are backed by the government. This means a lot to the common man with small savings and very little social security.
- India Post is adapting to change, offering new products and services required by the India of today. IT is being used increasingly to enhance operational efficiencies and drive better customer service, while generating new lines of business.
Problems that need to be addressed in the journey ahead
- Many products and services offered by India Post do not contribute much to the bottom line given its socio-economic mandate. India Post must generate new financial services that generate profits. The highly profitable International Money Transfer service is a case in point as are several new services like Electronic Fund Transfers, Mobile Money Transfer Services etc.
- With the spread of the internet and mobile phones across the country, customers’ expectations in terms of quick, transparent and convenient services are increasing. India Post must face this challenge by modernizing its tools and technologies.
- The IT and service skills of it huge manpower also need to be upgraded in line with the new expectations of the public.
- With the challenge of increasing competition, India Post must gear up and match the better service standards set by some banks and insurance companies in India.
With the increasing demand for financial services, increased spending on social welfare by government for the rural sector, the challenges facing India Post are set to increase.
Most observers will agree that India Post is prepared for every challenge as it has been in its long and illustrious history.