03 March, 2021

Snail Mail Souped Up

The Indian postal system is giving itself a modern outlook

Tribhuvan Tiwari
Snail Mail Souped Up
If youth is signalled by energy, motivation and a drive to reinvent itself for new needs, you could say that India's Department of Posts is 150 years young in its sesquicentennial year. That's why Raghav Lal, chief general manager, Business Development Directorate, Department of Posts, challenges the popular perception that post offices and postmen have become irrelevant in this digital age. "The opportunities are huge."

The two charts below show some of the motivations behind the hard work Lal's team is trying to do to make the best use of India's postal network. For one thing, people aren't writing as many letters now; mail traffic has plunged since the telecom revolution. For another, the Department of Posts loses money doing the things you'd most associate it with. For instance, it earns only 50 paise off a postcard that costs it Rs 7.20 to produce, market and deliver.

In a regular business, this would be a good thing—do less of what loses you money and your performance improves. But though it has over 1.55 lakh post offices and 5.66 lakh employees, the...

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