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Postal Network and System

At the time of Independence there were 23,344 post offices throughout the country. Of these 19,184 post offices were in the rural areas and 4,160 in the urban areas. As on 31 March 2008 the country has 1,55,035 post offices, of which, 1,39,173 are in rural areas and 15,862 in urban areas. As a result of this seven-fold growth in the postal network, today India has the largest postal network in the world.

Expansion of the postal network, especially in the rural areas, has to a great extent been brought about by opening part time Extra Departmental Post Offices, a system unique to the Department of Posts. Under this system, local residents are employed, subject to fulfillment of certain criteria, to man the post office for a period not exceeding five hours and to deliver and convey mails on payment of a certain allowance. On an average in India, a post office serves an area of 21.20 sq km, and a population of 7174. Post Offices are opened subject to satisfaction of norms regarding population, income and distance stipulated by the Department. There is an element of subsidy for opening post offices in rural areas, which is to the extent of 85% of the cost in hilly, desert and inaccessible areas, and 68 percent of the cost in normal rural areas.

The postal network consists of four categories of post offices, viz, Head Post Offices, Sub-Post Offices, Extra Departmental Sub-Post Offices and Extra Departmental Branch Post Offices. All categories of Post Offices retail similar postal services, while delivery function is restricted to specified offices. In terms of management control, accounts are consolidated progressively from Branch Post Offices to Sub-Post Offices and finally in Head Post Offices.

The Department has about 2.18 lakh departmental employees and about 2.76 lakhs Gramin Dak Sevaks as on 31 March 2009. Their training needs are met through a well-developed training infrastructure.

Postal System

The establishment of the modern postal system in India can be traced back to the second half of the 18th century. This postal system, established by Lord Clive in the year 1766, was further developed by Warren Hastings by establishing the Calcutta G.P.O. under a Postmaster General in the year 1774. In the other Presidencies of Madras and Bombay, the General Post Offices came into existence in 1786 and 1793 respectively. The Act of 1837 first regulated the Post Office on a uniform basis to unite the post office organisation throughout the three Presidencies into one all-India Service. The Post Office Act of 1854 reformed the entire fabric of the postal system, and the Post Office of India was placed on the present administrative footing one hundred and fifty four years ago on 1st October 1854. The statute presently governing the postal services in the country is the Indian Post Office Act, 1898.

Besides providing postal communication facilities, the post office network has also provided facilities for remittance of funds, banking and insurance services from the latter half of the 19th century.

International Mails

India is a member of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) since 1876 and of the Asian Pacific Postal Union (APPU) since 1964. These organisations aim at extending, facilitating and improving postal relations among other countries. India exchanges mail with more than 217 countries by air and surface.

Money can be remitted from selected foreign countries to India by way of money orders. India has money order services with 27 countries. India has a two way money order service with Bhutan and Nepal, wherein money orders can be sent to and received from these countries. With the remaining 25 countries, only inward service is available where money orders booked in these countries can be paid in India.

International EMS, which started in 1986 with five countries, has now been extended to 97 countries. With a view to facilitate export and import to and from foreign destinations, principal foreign offices of exchanges have been set up at Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi. In addition, six sub-foreign post offices have been established at Ahmedabad, Bangaluru, Jaipur, Cochin, Srinagar and Noida for both import and export. Export Extension Windows have also been made operative at Varanasi, Kanpur, Surat, Ludhiana, Moradabad and Guwahati to cater to the needs of the exporters/tourists in these areas.

The department has introduced electronic International Money Order service (Inward) through International Financial System Software developed by Universal Postal Unison (UPU) to provide fast, reliable efficient and up to date remittance service to the customers, the expansion of this service to more countries is under consideration.

In order to ensure higher standards of quality performance in transmission of delivery of international mail, a scheme viz. UP-gradation of International Mail processing Facilities at the Office of Exchange has been implemented under 11th five-year plan.

Technology Induction

India Posts aims to provide enhanced customer and employee satisfaction along with increasing its revenue through induction of IT. The Department of Posts aims to leverage information technology to attain a position of leadership and excellence in delivery of postal services, transforming the Department to a modern communications and financial services agency. The key initiatives undertaken during the year 2006-07 are as under:

Computerisation and Networking of Post Offices: By the end of March 2007, the Department of Posts supplied computer and its peripherals like scanner weighing scales, modems, etc. along with requisite power equipment like Gensets, UPS, etc. to all Head Post Offices and a large number of sub post offices. A total of 8263 post offices have been computerised by March 2007. The NIC is also implementing a WAN connecting all the Head Post Offices, Administrative Offices, Major Speed Post Centres and Accounts Offices. National Data Centre has also been set up at New Delhi and this Data Centre is being connected to the WAN. On being operational, the WAN will ensure a quantum jump in the quality of services being provided by the Posts Offices.

Modernisation of Operative Offices: Under the 10th Five Year Plan, to improve the ergonomics and ambience, 822 Post Offices were taken up for modernisation. This has resulted in better quality of counters, better furniture for customers and staff, proper illumination and uniform for both sign ages. The Department plans to take a quantum leap in its efforts to provide an electronic network of all Post Offices in the 11th Five Year Plan. It also plans to develop a single integrated software to link the data being received from all the Post Offices into a single repository, thereby empowering the customers and the managers.

Mail

Computerisation of Registration Sorting: As a part of the modernisation of mail network, computerisation of the registration sorting work in major mail offices had been initiated during the financial year 1995-96 by computerising Registration Sorting work at Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai. Registration sorting work in 154 mail offices has been computerized till 31.3.2007.

Computerisation of HROs: As a part of modernisation programme, computerisation of the HRO for proper maintenance of records relating to mail operations, their prompt retrieval and efficient office management has been undertaken. A beginning in this regard was made during the financial year 1997-98 by computerising HROs, Hyderabad Sorting Division. All HRO in the country have been computerised by 31st March, 2007.

Modernisation of Mail Offices (improving ergonomics): To improve the ergonomics and working environment, mail offices are being modernised with better operational equipments and improved ambience. The project was started during the financial year 1995-96, when 22 Mail Offices were modernized. By 31st March 2006, 269 Mail Offices were modernized.

With an objective to consolidate mail network, reduce cost of operation and generate revenue from mail related business, MBCs are being established across the country. These centres would be equipped with state-of-the -art technology and would offer one-stop solution for varied needs of bulk customers. By 31st March, 2007, 90 MBCs have been opened subsequent to merger/closer of smaller mail office.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 10-01-2011