The news that India Post is on twitter was a pleasant surprise. What made it more so was the fact that it was one of the first government departments to be on Twitter. It has been a long journey for India Post.

“Dakiya dak laya, Dakiya dak laya…” was how a popular song of the late seventies went. The song was true to life for millions all over India. It may seem long ago but in actual fact only about one-and-a-half decades ago, cellphones were not even on the horizon and the only mobile communication for the ordinary person was the humble postman, dressed in khaki and a bag full of letters slung over his shoulder coming on his bicycle or on foot. Those were times when the web was what a spider spun and twittering was left to the birds!

Going from house to house, it was not just letters that he brought but joy and sadness to families across the nations. Here a letter or telegram from a son gone out for work informing his family of safe arrival, there a letter of appointment to a much anticipated job, and occasionally news of demise. Today's ‘smsing' and chatting generation will scarcely be able to understand the eager anticipation and value of the postman's visit, much in excess of the weight of the paper that he delivered.

Among departments of the state, the post office was one which could be found even in remote villages.

When problems began

However, over the years, the quality of service started deteriorating. A monopoly situation and the ‘sarkari' attitude started ringing the death knell for India Post. With the arrival of e-mail, the old kid on the block was being derided as snail mail. And the entry of private couriers put the proverbial last nail in the coffin.

But like a slumbering giant waking up from his sleep, India Post has woken up. Like its counterparts in the telecommunication and banking sectors which have reinvented themselves after the entry of private operators, India Post too is rising up to meet new challenges — computerisation, electronic money orders and what not. The wide network of offices and outposts is also being utilised in other ways to increase business, including the facility to pay many utility bills.

I was recently surprised when a private courier called me up to inform me to collect from his office a parcel addressed to me. When I told him that it was his duty to deliver it, he said that he did not have boys to deliver the same in my area. I complained to the head office and voila, the parcel was sent by speed post from the courier agent's office to my residence.

The bells they are a tolling, but it is no death knell they are sounding. With wings spread, they are announcing the arrival of a bright future for India Post.

(The writer's email is philip.umman@gmail.com)

It is now rising up to meet new challenges — computerisation, electronic money orders and what not

More In: OPEN PAGE | FEATURES