Nearly two million postcards and eight million letters pass through India’s post offices daily.
IMAGE: A man buys the National flag at a Juhu post office, north west Mumbai, ahead of Independence day. Photograph: ANI Photo
Nearly two million postcards and eight million letters pass through India’s post offices daily, e-mail and the Internet notwithstanding.
Snail mail is not picking up speed though. The postal department’s numbers are declining even as the government works on a new legislation, shows data Business Standard collated from the department’s annual reports in the last decade.
IMAGE: A post office in Ranchi. Photograph: ANI Photo
The Post Office Bill, 2023, introduced in Parliament on August 10, 2023, will replace the Indian Post Office Act, 1898.
The 2023 legislation does not retain the government’s exclusive rights to deliver letters.
Much of existing postal mail is said to be official correspondence such as those generated by companies and banks.
Traffic in the form of postcards fell from 1.1 billion pieces in 2012-2013 to 0.7 billion in 2021-2022.
Letters have reduced from 3.5 billion to 2.4 billion over a 10-year period as seen in chart 1 (See chart).
E-commerce was expected to lean on the postal department to reach all places.
That happened initially, but the number of parcels and packets delivered has declined over the last 10 years.
Parcels are down from 94 million in 2012-2013 to 89 million in 2021-2022.
Packets are down from 839 million to 556 million over the same period.
As the postal department’s business growth narrows, its costs are rising.
Its losses increased to Rs 18,861 crore (Rs 188.61 billion) in 2021-2022. It was Rs 5,426 crore (Rs 54.26 billion) in 2012-2013.
Postal revenue rose from Rs 9,366 crore (Rs 93.66 billion) in 2012-2013 to Rs 10,860 crore (Rs 108.60 billion) in 2021-2022.
More than 60 per cent of its revenues came from remuneration for savings bank and savings certificate work. The segment accounted for Rs 6,114 crore (Rs 61.14 billion) of the department’s revenue.
The department’s pay and allowances accounted for Rs 17,829 crore (Rs 178.29 billion) in 2021-2022, show Union Budget documents.
There was also an additional Rs 10,593 crore (Rs 105.93 billion) money set aside for pensions.
This seemed to account for much of the establishment expenditure.
The postal department may yet have a role to play in much of India.
According to a government survey carried out in 2019-2021, nearly 43 per cent of men and 67 per cent of women have never used the Internet.
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com