05 August, 2021

The Future Is A Picture Postcard

Snail mail apart, post offices soup up their functional repertoire

collage by Jayachandran
The Future Is A Picture Postcard
Have you written a letter recently? Not on a computer screen, but in the old style, putting pen to paper, and then affixing a stamp on to the envelope and putting it in a red, green or blue mailbox. Chances are most of you haven't done so in months. Perhaps you've sent a greeting card? Well, maybe a few during Diwali, Christmas or New Year, but mostly, you relied on e-cards or cellular SMS. When did you last visit a post office, not to track your savings, but to buy stamps, send a registered letter, parcel, speedpost...? Six months ago? A year ago? Perhaps even longer?

But chances are that you may soon be visiting the post offices for a completely different reason—to draw cash from an ATM, drop a credit card bill, browse for PCs or cash some leftover dollars.

The coming of the e-age had struck almost the last nail in the coffin of the 165-year-old Indian Post and Telegraphs department, already reeling under the impact of competition from private couriers. Over the latter half of the '90s, urban mail stagnated, even rural mail hasn't grown. The number of telegrams and...

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