Pampering the post

DQW Bureau
13 Apr 2009
New Update


Tukaram Dinabandhu never had a bank account. He hailed from a small village

in Jharkhand and white-washed houses in Delhi to earn a living for himself and

for his family. Not having knowledge of Western Union Money Transfer, or the

likes, every month he availed the age old money order service of the Indian

Postal Department which entailed a long process and took days to reach his

village in the interiors of the country.

But times have changed now. It now takes only a few hours for the money to

reach his family. Thanks to the post office's electronic money transfer

services, called e-Money Order (e-MO). This method transfers money in 24-48

hours as against the five to seven days taken by the conventional money order


e-MO is not the only change happening at the neighborhood post office;

extensive use of technology by the postal department is making lives of many

Indians much more simpler.


Brand New

The recent change of logo for a fresh one supplements the air of freshness

that has enveloped the Indian postal services. The new logo, unveiled in

September last year, aims to give the postal service a corporate look and

reflects its new approach towards business an approach which shall aim to

leverage technology to connect the nation better. The new logo is that of a bird

in flight, done in bold colors like red and yellow.

However vast and well connected our postal network might be, it has always

been wrought by deficiencies and huge inconsistencies. A lot of it can be

attributed to the fact that India is a multi-dialect country, which writes in

numerous languages-be it books, blogs or letters. That doesn't make the job of

the post office any easier. Often, there is a problem of deciphering what is

written and even a minor alphabetical or writing error can run havoc with the

journey of the letter.

Then, there is the problem of stamping and pin codes. According to a survey

done by India Post, pin code is mentioned on about 65 percent of the total mail

that India Post handles. Out of this around 10 percent are non-decipherable. And

as most of the mail is hand-written, (only around five percent of the total

volume is in the typed format) it further accelerates the problem. And it is no

news that our postal services have been synonymous with delays and

misplacements, from money orders to accounts to letters.


And thus the postal services are displaying the digitization drive. Most

solutions for India Post, have been developed by National Informatics Center (NIC).

Wired Money

It finally dawned upon the government that it can exploit the reach and

penetration of the postal network to offer instant, secure and hassle-free

transfer and payment of funds. Its Instant Money Order (iMO), also known as

electronic money transfer and e-payment services are steps in this direction.

At the inception stage, around

2,500 post offices all over the country have switched over to electronic

transmission of money orders

iMO is one of the most important services that India Post offers. This

instant on-line money transfer service is a speedy, safe and reliable option for

transferring money. It is an instant web-based money transfer service through

post offices (iMO centers) in India between two resident individuals in the

Indian territory. It enables money transfer of amounts ranging from Rs 1,000 to

Rs 50,000 from designated iMO post offices.

India Post has revam­ped the money order service and introduced an electronic

mode for faster remittance of money. This move would reduce transmission of

vouchers from one place to another and provide for a centralized information

system on the money order service. It is also proving to have an immense impact

in terms of cost-saving by India Post.

Here, after the form is filled and submitted with money at iMO post office

counter, the counter clerk books the iMO immediately and hands over a printed

receipt with a computer generated confidential 16-digit iMO number in a sealed

condition. The 16-digit iMO number will not be known to the booking clerk also.

The customer is required to tear off the seal and convey the confidential

16-digit iMO number to the intended recipient over phone, SMS, email, etc at his

means and risk.


At the inception stage, around 2,500 post offices all over the country have

switched over to electronic transmission of money orders. Obviously, the booking

facilities for this instant money order would be available at post offices where

wide area connectivity or broadband connectivity is available. Once the process

stabilizes, the department may consider enhancing the maximum limit of


ePayment is another service that leverages the tremendous reach of India

Post. This department specializes in accepting across the counter payments and

consolidating the same. It is a 'Many to One' service through which bills like

telephone, electricity etc, paid by customers in post offices are electronically

consolidated and transferred.

Here the post office collects bill payments from customers on the behalf of

service providers or billers such as BSNL, Airtel, RTOs, etc. The post office

then issues a receipt to the customer and accounts for the transaction. The

collection data is updated into a central server and is accessible to the biller

through a web interface. The accounts are consolidated electronically and the

amount is paid to the service provider at one point, which is convenient.


Netting IT

The postal department of India is determined to utilize the miracle called

the Internet as much as it can. Its ambitious agenda includes taking the

Internet into rural areas.

The state of Jharkhand is already rolling on the digital mode and artisans in

Raghurajpur village of Orissa are now connected to the world through the

Internet, thanks to the state transport bus, which is fitted with a Wi-Fi box.

The United Villages concept is also called the Daknet or Internet Post, and

the bus is like a postman. It connects 25 remote villages in Orissa to already

Internet-enabled areas.


Then there is ePost, which enables any hand-written message, photograph or

simple text message to be sent between ePost centers (post offices) all across

the country. These messages can then be downloaded at the addressed ePost center

and delivered by the postman to the recipient. The service can also be availed

by an individual from their home or office or by purchasing a prepaid card from

the post office.

To ensure maximum coverage, ePost centers have been set up in the post

offices, covering all the districts and major towns. These ePost centers are

equipped with an Internet connection, computers, printers and other necessary


The postal department has much more on its plate. This includes providing

franking services online, enabling easy loans from post offices (a tie up with

SBI has already been established in rural Punjab), new look for rural post

offices and even payment of NREGA wages via e-payment mechanism.

Let's hope that all the ambitious plans for our very own dak khana don't get

engulfed in corruption and bribery, which can be quite an ailment in this


Source: dataquest