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Plays an Important Role in the Socio-Economic Lives

Interview with Arundhaty Ghosh, Chief Postmaster General, WB Circle

What is the present scenario of Indian Postal Service?
The Department of Posts is one of the greatest Institution of India and plays an important role in the socio-economic lives of its citizens. The postal network of India is the largest in the world and touches the remotest corner of the country.  The core activity of Department of Posts is processing, transmission and delivery of mail. Apart from this, there is also a diverse range of retail service which includes money remittance, banking as well as insurance.  In addition to the services in the last few years, Department of Posts has also undertaken payment of social benefits such as MGNREGA and other social security pension schemes.  In order to improve the requirements and aspirations of the citizens, all the services are being upgraded with the help of latest technology.

A major IT modernisation project, as a Mission mode e-governance Project was initiated in 2012 with a total outlay of Rs.49090 million. The Project aims at transforming Department of Post’s operational efficiencies and improving service delivery of operational and administration units through upgraded technology and connectivity. Business process re-engineering and improving operational efficiency are being underscored by the Department of Posts to increase customer satisfaction.

Where does Indian Postal Service compare to international standard?
India is one of the oldest active members of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a specialised agency of the United Nations, having its headquarters at Bern, Switzerland.  The Union is responsible for ensuing efficiency operations of the International Postal Services throughout the world.

The services offered by Department of Posts can be compared with international standards of service being offered by Postal Administrations of other countries.  However, technology induction in other developed countries is more compared to India.  With the IT modernisation project which is under implementation, Department of Posts is expected to catch up with the quality of service offered by the Postal Administrations of the other countries.

How do you view the significant progress of “India Post” since nationalisation?
At the time of independence there were 23,344 Post Offices in the country, primarily in the urban areas.  Since independence, the postal network has increased by more than 6.50 times and a large number of post offices have been opened in the rural areas to ensure last mile delivery.  On an average, a post office serves an area of 21.23 Sqr. Kms. and a population of 8,086.

Apart from the new post offices which have been opened, various projects have been undertaken in Department of Posts to improve the quality of service.  Operational processes have been redesigned in order to improve efficiency.  On line performance monitoring systems have been developed which provides “end-to-end” tracking of speed post articles.  As a result of the initiatives undertaken by the Department of Posts delivery of speed post has become faster.  Similar systems have been introduced for Regd. Mail also.

Apart from these various projects the appearance of the post offices with distinct branding has been put into place under Project Arrow.  Through this project a customer friendly work environment were created in a large number of Post Offices.  The Core Area of Post Office viz., Mail Delivery, Savings Bank, Remittance and customer satisfaction were also improved.

Which are the thrust areas for “India Post”, mainly in West Bengal?
West Bengal Circle is venturing into the new and fast expanding e-commerce sector as it has the right fit as the third party logistic provider with an advantage of last mile delivery up to the village. The Circle has entered into agreements with newly found e-commerce companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal etc. and launched a pilot project for same day/next day delivery in Kolkata City.

To further improve the quality of service, dedicated officers are placed for monitoring the Parcel and SPCOD business.  Help Desks are also set up for further assistance.

The Department has started an ambitious IT Network to leverage the strength of POs for better customer delivery. The IT Network will connect all POs including Branch POs through an integrated platform with Data Centre and Disaster Recovery Centre.  In West Bengal Circle, 1760 Departmental Post Offices and 7306 Branch Offices will be connected. At present Core Banking Solution for Savings Banks has been rolled out in 21 Post Offices of West Bengal. All Departmental Post Offices will very soon have Core Banking and ATM facility.  There are other projects related to Postal Life Insurance and up gradation of services in rural Branch Post Offices which are on the anvil.

What are the major challenges facing “India Post today”? What is your strategy for the next five years?
With massive changes in the technology and introduction of internet, e-mail, cellular telephone and text messages, transmission of documents through the post has taken a major hit throughout the world, India is no exception.  The major challenge of India Posts today is to reinvent itself and to provide services which are in demand. With the introduction of e-commerce parcels India Posts is looking at an opportunity to weather the storm by making its foot prints in the e-commerce market as a third party logistic providers.

In order to provide better and faster service to its customers, India Posts has embarked on a massive IT transformation. Core Banking Solution (CBS) is being rolled out as a silo of the IT project.

Where do you see “India Post“in the year 2020? What are you doing about improvement of services of “India Post”? What about the “Small Savings”, “Postal Life Insurance” and “Postal Banking Service”, mainly in West Bengal? What about recent activities of “India Post”?
Department of Posts operates the Small Savings Scheme on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.   It operates Savings A/C, RD, TD, MIS, PPF, NSC & SCSS. The Post Office Savings Bank with more than 312 million account holders are operating their accounts through the network of 154856 Post Offices.  In order to keep pace with  current trend in the banking sector and the requirements of customer, Core Banking Solution (CBS) has been introduced in the post offices, this project will provide ATM, Internet and Mobile Banking Services to facilitate “any time any where banking” for the post office savings scheme users.  The project has been rolled out in 1628 Post Offices, all over India including 21 Post offices in West Bengal till now and 8.8 crore accounts have migrated to Core Banking Solution.

Postal Life Insurance (PLI) is the oldest Life Insurance Scheme for the benefit of the government and semi government employees. Today it caters to employees of civil and military personnel, local bodies, government aided educational institutions, nationalised banks, autonomous institutions, public undertaking service etc.  The PLI/RPLI are being further automated under FSI project 2012 which is under  implementation with the provision  for on line approvals and option of paying premium from any post office.  Modernisation of both post office savings bank and postal life insurance will ultimately improve ease of operation and improve the quality of service for our customers.

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