India the largest postal network in the world is providing its services to Indian residents under the control of MCIT (Ministry of Communication and Information). The postal department is also known as the Indian Postal Service or Indian Post Office. In India the postal department takes the responsibility to collect, process, transmit, and deliver mail.
A network of 154,866 post offices, over 570.00 mailboxes, and about 500,000 employees serve approximately 1.3 billion people over three million square kilometers, manage over 6.5 billion mails per year. This makes the Indian postal service the largest network of its kind in the world. So making India Largest postal network in the world.
On average, a single post office covers over 21 square kilometers and serves nearly 8000 people. Of the 154,866 post offices, almost 90% are located in rural areas. Besides its main postal functions, retail, insurance, and financial services are also provided to the residents of India by the post office India.
The postal service goes back to the British East India Company and the British Raj. Before the arrival of the British, there was no centralized postal system. The first trace of an organized postal service was the postal system under Muhammad Bin Tughluqin in the mid-14th century.
The system evolved under the Mughal rule to the point where Emperor Akbar built post offices ten miles away on the main roads and placed horses in each office for efficient coordination and delivery. Despite this, the British do not seem to have found a consolidated communication system when they started expanding their dominance in India.
The East India Company took the initiative and created a Dauk Company in Mumbai in 1688. Between 1764 and 1766 offices were also created in Chennai and Calcutta. Lord Clive (considered the founder of the British Empire in India).
Normal Postcard System
This system was introduced in 1766. Under this new system, landowners along the routes used for mail and the transmission of goods had to provide brokers or messengers to deliver mail from one place to another.
For the services provided, the owners’ rents were proportionately subsidized. Lord Clive also made fundamental changes to the way the postal service was operated in India. He introduced a system of rules and regulations that laid the foundation for what will eventually become the Indian postal service.
The consultation law of March 24 (1766) explains some parts of this system. For better regulation of the postal service, Lord Clive ordered that in the future all letters should be sent from the Government Palace.
The postmaster or his assistant who assists every evening to sort the mail and sees them sent off. That the letters to the different settlements of islands be made in separate bags, sealed with the seal of the Company (East India Company), that no one can open the parcels, except the head officials in different places. Thus postmaster or his assistant sort the mail and ensure its safety.
Development of the Postal System
Warren Hastings was the first governor-general of India. He identified the development of a postal system for communication purposes is crucial if the British managed to establish their presence on the subcontinent. Thus he starts work to strengthening the postal system in India.
One of his first steps in this direction was to democratize the postal service. In March 1774, he opened the postal system to the general public. Before then, the main goal of the postal system was to serve the commercial interests of the East India Company.
The details of a complete postal plan were worked out in January 1774 and the company’s first general post office (GPO) and postal service were established in Calcutta on March 31, 1774. General Post Master was appointed to see administrative and operational activities.
From 1774 to 1837 the post office evolved like any other organization. In 1784 the regulations were reviewed and adopted at the Calcutta office. This was followed by the creation of general post offices in Chennai in 1778 and Mumbai in 1793. The services were expanded. So the establishment of post offices was begun.
The Bengal XX regulation provided a clear explanation of the landowners’ duties in the postal system. In 1830, Bombay regulation XI prohibited all private postal services and made the Governor-General the only entity responsible for transporting mail.
Comprehensive Postal Network
The company managed to create a viable network linking some of the big cities. But, there was still no general postal system in India before Law XVII of 1837. According to the law, a public post was created and the government assumed the company took over the exclusive right to convey letters for hire in the territories of the East India Company.
According to the law, several new post offices were created (the first on October 1, 1837) and a double system of post offices appeared: the imperial post, which controlled all the main roads and large offices and The district post office, which was entirely rural and controlled rural services in each district.
Although this new system has managed to achieve its goal of creating a more complete postal network, improvements could still be made. So, in 1850, the government of India (British Raj) appointed a three-member committee to investigate the matter. The Commission’s report in 1851 presented new proposals for uniform and practical postal rates for all associated post offices.
The postal law of 1854 was promulgated to include reforms. The law centralized postal services, creating the Indian post office as it exists today. The first stamp was also introduced in the same year. The Indian post office is now governed by the Indian Post Act of 1898.
First Railway Mail in India
After the 1854 law, the Indian postal service developed steadily. Due to the greater economic accessibility, postal traffic has increased and the network of post offices has expanded. In 1863 the first railway postal service was created.
The post office has significantly expanded the services offered over time. In 1877 it introduced mail-order services with the value-for-money system. It introduced the mandates in 1880; in 1882 the post office savings bank was created, and in 1884 postal life insurance (PLI) was introduced to cover all postal workers.
The new Indian government which framed after independence in 1947 takes the control of the post office. At the time there were 23,344 post offices, most located in urban areas. Recognizing the potential of the post office, the new Indian administration has made expansion a priority. So they begin to expand the postal services all over the country.
Jawaharlal Nehru noted that the postal system is a necessary and important public institution. In the past 60 years or so, the service has grown seven times and has gone from urban to rural. The service also improved the quality and quantity of financial and other services offered.
What Postal Office Does?
At the administrative level, the postal service is led by a director-general who reports to the Union’s minister of communications and information technology. The CEO is also the secretary of the department, as well as the president of the Postal Services Commission (PSB).
PSB is the high-level management body of the DoP. It composed of the President and six other members, the Board of Directors is responsible for personnel management, postal operations, introduction, and implementation of technology. Besides postal life insurance, investment in postal life insurance funds, human resource development, and planning are also under their control.
Operationally, the Indian postal network is divided into 22 postal circles. Each circle, led by a Chief postmaster general, is responsible for a specific geographical area. The circles are divided into regions made up of terrain units called divisions. Post offices across the country are divided into head, sub-head, and branch offices. Therefore the chief postmaster ensures postal services in the areas under their control.
Being the Largest postal network in the world the functions of the department can be classified into four main areas: postal operations, financial services, insurance, and stamps. So the postal service of India helps the citizens of India to manage their financial needs.
The basic duty of any postal service is the transmission of mail. The mail-in India is collected from 57,379 mailboxes across the country … managed by a network of 387 main offices and transported by road, rail and airlines across the country. For the period 2009-2010, the service processes 6,589.9 million mails. This number increased by 0.4% in 2010-2011 to reach 6,616.5 million pieces.
For city mail delivery, the department maintains Mail Motor Services consisting of 1,282 motorized vehicles. For the period 2010-2011, these vehicles covered 30.57 million kilometers. So making India Largest postal network in the world.
Besides the regular postal service, the department also offers a variety of high-end products for faster and more specific deliveries for each event. These premium services include Speed Post, Business Post, Express Parcel, Media Post (for outreach purposes), Greeting Post (greeting cards for special occasions), and Logistics Post (material distribution).
The ministry also took steps to modernize the mail delivery process. The main ones are:
The messaging network optimization project: a general effort to improve the quality and efficiency of the services provided. A proposal to set up automatic mail processing centers (AMPC) to improve the efficiency of sorting, as well as to help modernize the mail network, consolidate sporting activities, and speed up sorting and delivery.
The post office offers a wide range of financial services. The core of these services is focused on the savings account and associated plans. POSB (Post Office Savings Bank) is the oldest and largest post office banking facility in India with more than 238 million savings accounts in 154,000 post offices. Thus in terms of financial services, it makes India Largest postal network in the world
The various savings products offered include the savings account (SB), the recurring deposit account (RD), the monthly income plan (MIS), the pension fund (PPF), the temporary deposit (TD), the savings plan for the elderly, and the issuance of the national savings certificate (VIII and IX).
By popular demand, the DoP offers money transfer services. These include money orders, electronic money orders, instant money orders, MO Videsh, international money transfer service, electronic settlement services, and international money transfer Money Gram. Besides, Post offices also sell mutual funds. Also, in collaboration with HDFC Bank, the post office offers a currency exchange service for areas without access.
As a public service, the post office also pays the salaries provided for by the Mahatma Gandhi (MGNREGA) Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Post offices located in rural areas are used as wage collection and distribution points. The department also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI) to collect consumer price data in rural areas to calculate the consumer price index (CPI) as well as the rural CPI.
The department offers insurance services through two main programs: Postal Life Insurance (PLI) and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI). Thus post offices provide different insurance schemes for their customers.
PLI was launched in 1884 as an insurance scheme for postal workers. The PLI now covers civil and military employees of central and state governments, local agencies, government-subsidized educational institutions, universities, nationalized banks, autonomous institutions, and public sector companies. PLI had 4,686,245 active policies for a total insured amount of 640.779 million rupees (~ $ 11.6 billion) as of 31 March 2011. Therefore citizens of India can take these insurance policies through postal offices.
The RPLI, unlike the PLI, was created in 1995 on the recommendation of the Official Committee for Industrial Reforms. The committee noted that only 22% of the country’s insurable population was insured.
He also said that the Committee understands that rural branch postmasters who enjoy a trusted position in the community have the opportunity to look for life insurance companies in their respective sectors. The Indian government extended the PLI program to rural areas in March 1995. Being the Largest postal network in the world Indian postal service provides a number of postal insurance schemes to its customers.
Collection and study of stamps are referred to as philately. As an official government agency responsible for postal affairs, the DoP distributes stamps, special/commemorative stamps, and letter paper. They also maintain the National Philatelic Museum and promote philately through exhibitions and other activities.