India Post Marches Ahead
Mail Sorting to be Automated in Metros
National Address Database Management System Envisaged
India Post is the largest postal network in the world. It provides postal facilities within reach of every citizen in the country through its vast network at affordable prices. India Post has made a long journey. From 23,344 post offices at the time of independence to 1,55,035 post offices (1,39,173 Post Offices are in rural areas and 15,862 Post Offices in urban areas) with an average post office serving 7174 people and covering an area of approximately 21.2 sq. kms.
The Department has launched “Project Arrow”, to lay the foundation for a comprehensive, long term transformation of India Post. Project Arrow aims at comprehensive improvement of the core operations of the post office as well as the ambience in which postal transactions are undertaken. The response of the general public and the staff of the Department to the initiative has been overwhelmingly positive and Project arrow offices have shown significant increase in revenue earnings. The initiative Project Arrow- Transforming India Post has also won the Prime Minister’s award for Excellence in Public Administration for the year 2008-09. So far 1530 Post Offices have been covered under this project.
In order to streamline the processes relating to processing, transmission and delivery of mail and to improve the quality of service of mail products used by the public, the Department of Posts has undertaken a number of new initiatives. Mail Network Optimization Project has been launched to optimize the existing mail network of Department of Posts and streamline core mail operations. It also seeks to bring in greater standardization and improvement in the operational processes relating to mail processing, transmission and delivery.
The Department has undertaken a project to set up Automated Mail Processing Centers (AMPCs) in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad with a view to automate mail sorting. These automated systems would be used for sorting of mail, which would help the Department in increasing the productivity at Mail Offices in these cities.
The Department has inducted a dedicated cargo aircraft for carriage of mail, parcels and logistics to the North East Region in order to bring in consistency in mail transmission. The India Post aircraft operates on Kolkata-Guwahati-Imphal-Agartala-Kolkata route on a regular basis. This initiative has provided a vital communication link for the NE region in terms of its linkages with the rest of the country and helped the Department e-solve the problems associated with mail transmission to and from this region.
The Department has also undertaken an initiative to put in place a National Address Database Management System with an objective to effectively manage the address database of public/customers, update the addresses online, and helping the customers in locating correct addresses.
The Department has also mechanized the mail delivery processes in the North-East Region of the country with a view to expedite the mail delivery process in hilly and difficult terrains of the Region. GPS device has been provided in all Mail Motor Vehicles in NE region for better and safe monitoring of mail movement in the region.
Computerization and Networking of Post Offices
Under the plan project of computerization and networking of Post Offices, Department of Posts has supplied computer hardware, peripherals and power back up equipments to 14324 Post Offices till date.
Under XI Plan Scheme, upgraded computer hardware viz. servers, desktops peripherals etc and power backup equipments like UPS and gensets have been supplied to 1939 Post Offices computerized during earlier five year plans.
1308 sites/ locations have been connected under Wide Area Network (WAN). All Head Post Offices, Administrative Offices, Major Speed Post Centres and Accounts Offices have been connected under WAN. 10530 Offices have been provided with broadband facilities.
The IT Modernization Project Phase II of India Post under XI plan envisages computerization of all the non-computerized Post Offices in the country (Departmental single handed Post Offices) and all GDS Post Offices phased over the financial years 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Extensive computerization of the post offices have allowed the introduction of many e-enabled services such as:
An on-line domestic money transmission service called iMO was launched in January 2006 which enables the customer to receive money in minutes from any of the post offices providing this service. Under this service, a person can send amount from Rs.1000/- up to Rs.50,000/- in one transaction. It is already functional in 9250 Post Offices across the country.
e-Money Order (eMO)
The electronic money order, which has been launched in October 2008, facilitates transmission of ordinary money orders through electronic media. eMO have the same tariff structure as the existing money order service. India Post has also signed bilateral agreement for exchange of electronic international money order service with Emirates posts, UAE.
e-Payment is a ‘Many to One’ service through which bills (telephone, electricity, municipal dues, taxes etc.) are paid by customers in Post Offices which are then electronically consolidated and paid to the service provider. The service is presently available in more than 8,000 Post Offices across the country and will soon be extended to all computerized Post Offices.
India Post is pursuing the objective of financial inclusion through its 1,39,182 post offices in rural areas and 15,797 post offices in urban areas. The total number of accounts with post office has increased from ` 14.23 crore in 2003-04 to 24.10 crore in 2009-10. The outstanding balance in Post Office Savings Bank accounts in 2009-10 was ` 5,83,789 crore. India Post has already computerised its Savings bank operations in 11,000 post offices. Some of the new initiatives in provision of Financial Services are:
Postal Finance Mart
Postal Finance Mart (PFM) offer all the financial products and services under one roof “One Stop Shop for Financial Services” in a fully computerized office supported by technology, at par with reputed banking institutions. During 10th Five Year Plan, a total of 313 postal finance Marts have been set up across the country. A target for setting up of 500 postal Finance Marts has been fixed for the 11th Five Year Plan, out which 122 have already been set up.
Core Banking solution for Post Office Small Savings Scheme customers
Any-where, Any-time and Any branch banking i.e. Core Banking Solutions (CBS) is included in the X1 Five Year Plan with a financial outlay of Rs. 106 crores for development of CBS software, Customer Relations Management, Training Project Management Unit, Centrallized Bank Office, etc. which support Post Office Savings Bank and Saving Certificates business with improved operational efficiency with delivery channels like ATM, internet, phone and mobile banking services to Small Savings Scheme customers.
The post offices also provide insurance services to Government and semi-government employees and to the rural populace under the banner of POSTAL LIFE INSURANCE (PLI) and RURAL POSTAL LIFE INSURANCE (RPLI). The number of Rural Postal Life Insurance policies has increased from 26.66 lakhs in 2003-04 to more than 70 lakhs in 2008-09 and more than 99 lakhs in 2009-10. Postal Life Insurance policies were more than 44 lakhs as on 31.3.2010
Premium services such as Speed Post, Bill Mail Service, Business Post, Express Parcel Post, Logistics Post, Media Post and retail Post etc. are being provided through the postal Network across India. The revenue from premium products has been growing consistently. During the year 2009-10 revenue through these services was 1625 crore, an increase of 13.24% over the revenue of 1435 crore accrued during the year 2008-09.
LEVERAGING OF THE POSTAL NETWORK
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) The Department of Posts has been given the responsibility to disburse the wages to NREGS beneficiaries through Post Office Savings Bank account. Starting with Andhra Pradesh Postal Circle in 2006, the payment of wages under NREGS is currently operational in 19 Postal Circles comprising of 21 States. The scheme is operational through 96,895 post offices (including HOs/SOs/BOs). Nearly 4,67 crore NREGS accounts have been opened up to October 2010, and the amount disbursed during the Apr- Oct 2010 is approximately Rs. 7113 crores.
Collection of Rural Price Index Data:
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implmentation (MoSPI) has entrusted the collection of statistics for acertaining the Rural Price Index to 1,181 post offices across the country with effect from October, 2009. The data so collected are electronically transmitted to MoSPI.
Tie-up with Reliance Money Limited
Sale of gold coins by tying-up with Reliance Money Limited has been launched on 15th October, 2008 as part of retail post in selected post offices. Scheme is available through 700 POs. The Department has sold 421 kg.Gold and earned Rs 3.61 crores from 1st April, 2010 to 30th November 2010.
Old Age Pension
Old Age Pension is being paid through 29.52 Post Office Savings accounts in Bihar, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Jharkhand, M.P., Maharashtra, North-East and Uttarakhand, and through money order in Karnataka, Kerala, M.P., Maharashtra, N.E., Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.
On Line Acceptance of RTI Applications :
The Department has designated 4707 CENTRAL ASSISTANT PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICERS (CAPIOs) at least one in each Tehsil level across the country. The officers in charge of the computerised Customer Care Centres have been identified to act as CAPIOs for the Department and to receive RTI requests and appeals on behalf of other Central Public Authorities who have agreed to avail of this facility in Post Offices in pursuance of Section 5 (2) and 19 of the RTI Act, 2005. The designated CAPIO at a Post Office receives requests and appeals under the RTI Act 2005 for forwarding the same to the Central Public Information Officer or senior officer specified under sub-section (1) of section 19 of the RTI Act 2005 or the Central Information Commission (CIC), as the case may be.
International Operations of India Post
The Post Office is an important channel for international trade, enabling individuals and organisations to transfer goods, money and information across the borders for commercial purposes.
International Parcel and Express Services
Parcel Exports and imports in packet-sized shipments have seen a spurt in recent years. India Post has responded to this trend by revamping its portfolio of international products in tune with the current demands of the market. Standardised cartons have been introduced for parcels under the product name International Flat Rate Boxes. These boxes are convenient and secure, and they ensure faster handling during transmission. The accompanying customs documentation has been simplified for convenience of customers.
World Net Express
India Post has also launched a premium express service called WorldNet Express through a unique collaboration with Duetsche Post, the national postal carrier of Germany. This service enables customers to despatch express parcels to over 200 countries, and has advanced features like tracking of parcels through internet, telephone and SMS. This service is also supported by a 24 hour telephone help line.
While fast and reliable solutions are today available for transhipment of goods to individuals and institutions engaged in international trade, this is mostly limited to the metros and larger cities. The efforts of India Post is to make such services available across the country, thus bringing international trade within the reach of individuals and SMEs even in remote towns and villages. India Post has also initiated discussions on plans to make international trade more inclusive with the Customs Department and agencies like the Federation of Indian Export Organisations.
International Remittance Services
The contribution of international remittances to the country’s GDP has been gaining increasing recognition in recent years. According to World Bank estimates, India would be receiving US $ 55 billion in remittances from abroad during 2010, which is much more than any other country. The Post Office is widely considered the friendliest and safest channel for remittances. India Post has recognised the significance of this business segment, and is offering a portfolio of remittance services to customers. This ranges from instant money transfer on the Western Union platform , to electronic money orders on the International Financial System, the latter being a collaborative platform among postal operators. India Post has recently launched the MO Videsh international money order service on the Euro Giro platform. India Post is also actively supporting the efforts of the Universal Postal Union to set up worldwide systems for money remittances and payments, that are accessible and affordable to the common people.
e-Commerce has been identified as a priority area by India Post for increasing the access to citizens to postal services and also as an area for diversification of business. A pilot project in this sector is being readied for launch, under the brand e-Post Office. This portal is being developed with the technical support of the National Informatics Corporation. The e-Post Office will initially retail postal products like money orders and sale of philatelic stamps. Customers can access the portal through internet from any part of the country, and carry out the booking of money order or purchase of stamp using their debit or credit card. Once the transaction is completed on the portal, its delivery will be effected through the physical network of India Post. The e-Post Office will subsequently expand its scope to include all postal and postal financial services. It will ultimately emerge as a self-contained e-Commerce portal supported by India Post’s nation-wide ‘brick- and- mortar’ network at the back-end, and facilitating trade at global level through tie-ups with partner postal organisations. The e-Post Office is envisaged as an inclusive enterprise capable of taking postal and other government services beyond the four walls of the office building to the doorstep of the citizen.
Human Resource Development
In a labour intensive service organization like Postal Service, the employees play a major role in achieving high quality of service and customer satisfaction. The Department is going through a process of transformation. Upgrading the skills of the employees, sensitizing them to the changes and preparing them for the transformation through IT Induction is of prime importance. In the XIth Plan a comprehensive plan for training covering all the cadres has been put in place.
A new cadre for the Postmasters has been created so as to bring in professionalism in management of the post offices. This cadre will play a critical role in making post offices vibrant and user friendly organizations as well as in successful implementation of the flag ship project India post 2012 for induction of IT and modernization.