A Postman is probably one of those characters who has played a major role in Indian films. The climax of the script is based on the delivery of a letter, a telegram. Songs are pictured with heroes and heroines reading letters.
Outside the films too, the postmen are more than mere delivery men. In villages they are part of the daily social life. It is a familiar question in homes, ?Has the postman gone?? which indicates the wait for mail can be postponed till the next day.
When couriers came into the field, there was a round of writing off of postal services, declaring them too sluggish to face competition. The Indian postal service has proved such early talks wrong. With its credibility intact, the department, one of the chief employers in the government, has not only survived but done better. Gift shops, new services, customer-friendly facilities have all been introduced.
As of today, there are 1,55,618 post offices. Some 160 million account holders have a total deposit of Rs 2,60,000 crore. Despite the courier onslaught, the post offices handle over five lakh letters only in the metro route. This is possible because of the network.
India has the highest number of post offices in the world. China has 57,135 and the US only 38,123. The postal service supports a communication network in the country, which no courier service can reach. The courier is basically city-centric. Probably the USP of the post offices is their accountability and reach. Into its 150th year of existence, the postal department is looking ready for a sprint. The government would do well to nurture the department, instead of trying to stifle it with tariff hikes and decreasing budgetary allocations. After all, they are great integraters of our country, a live-wire link with every nook of the vast landscape.