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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Forgetting the roots after climbing the top

Indian Postal Service – Need to Return to its Roots

It is a pleasure to go to one of the post offices anywhere in Europe – small or big. These are places where people come to post parcels and letters in large numbers. The Post Offices are clean and efficiently run and everyone waits patiently in the queue. When you send a letter, it is sure to be delivered in any part of Europe within three days and if you should put a small amount of currency, you can be certain it will not be abstracted en-route. All this is impossible to expect in India.

There are still a lot of things that need to be moved physically and an efficient postal system will help the poorest with a cost effective service without resorting to expensive couriers; the courier industry is incidentally amongst the most profitable in our country.

We in India are increasingly disillusioned with our postal service and for that top management not the one in the field but in New Delhi needs to be faulted. It has lost its script and is now attempting to smarten its urban office Potemkin fashion while neglecting its rural sector where it has enormous strengths and where it massively under-invests.

The Postal Service in India must return to its roots – of serving the people with a variety of services that they need and at costs which they can afford. It is a sad commentary on the management that it has yet to find a way to reach five thousand rupees as inexpensively across India as someone with a bank account can transfer a couple of lakhs of rupees almost instantaneously to another account across the country for less than Rs.50. It is high time the Post Office is run on a PPP model with a lot more empathy for our less well off citizens and with a lot more public oversight than the ineffective formal ones we have in place.

Dr.Uday Balakrishnan
Dr.Uday Balakrishnan recently retired on VRS as Member, Postal Services Board and is now a visiting fellow at the Central European University, Budapest. His interests include financial empowerment of the poor, child labour and contemporary Indian history Courtesy : GKC Blog

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