India Post – unsung heroes

rural post office  When was the last time you went into a post office? Or when did you meet the postman for your area? Most people would say “umm…can’t remember, long time back, I think” or some such. You would remember the postman when you were expecting your passport to come in, or your income tax refund was due.

Many of us, if not most, have moved over the courier companies and use them to send out letters, packets etc especially if the destination is one of the metros, or tier-1 cities in our country.  Oh, India Post is un-realiable. Maybe, used to be. But, this is the only service which connects the country and its people to every remote corner. Literally.

m0lm7eOhToFprLY6YWGygUAI used to run a retail ecommerce company till last year. There was no way we could send out packages to remote areas in the east, up into Kashmir (Dras, Kargil, or even Pulwama), into Port Blair or to Agatti. Forget these places, it would be difficult to send out cash on delivery into villages in the heart of the country using one of these courier companies. Their reach is limited and their level of reliability is zero beyond a certain range. Take it from me, I have used them and used them all.

There have been cases when I have had to call the post master in a remote area in Arunachal to follow up on a packet and his patient reply to my irritated self was “Sir, the village is far from here with no roads. The postman walks to that village and it takes him about a day. His round trip is about 2.5 days. He goes to this village once every other week, sir! Please be patient, sir”. Now, show me a courier company which can even attempt this.

big_4613_lead11India Post charges the least of all and their speed of service is really about the same as anyone else. In our years of successful operation, India Post has not lost a single article that we have sent through them. Not so with the courier companies.

But, that is all about business and efficiency. Oh, but postal service in other countries is so much better. Agreed, India Post perhaps is not the most efficient. But, consider the yeoman service they provide really for a pittance. Their mail delivery people (postmen, or women) walk; mostly. Some travel on bicycles. Regardless, of the weather they do deliver. Umbrella in hand, when its pouring outside or in blistering heat. And how does the delivery person travel in a developed country? In a truck.

How much does a postman in India earn? You know its a pittance.

Now, what kind of coverage does India Post and its staff provide? Started formally in 1858 (integrating various independent networks), the network has a staggering 154,866 post offices of which ~90% are in rural areas. This is the largest distributed postal network in the world. No exceptions. No courier company (or even all of them put together) could even dream of having a network this dense in the next 100 years.

The highest post office in the world is in Hikkim, in Himachal Pradesh (15,500 ft above sea level).

Not impressed yet? Go use them. No they don’t have pasted smiles, but stuff gets done. Visit them a couple of times and they recognize you. They are our unsung heroes.

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