Indian Postal services started a long ago in the year 1854. The credit goes to Lord Dalhousie. It was Warren Hastings, who took the initiative to open the postal systems in our country. A lot of twists and turns followed and we see it as it is today.It is a government operated system and falls under the ministry of communications.
Our post offices provide a large chunk of revenue and services like banking, saving schemes, certificates and insurances too. And people still choose to save and invest their hard earned money in the post office. No doubt the various post office schemes are a boon to people who don’t want to invest their money in risky areas like mutual funds.
Although the postal service in India is the largest in the world, there are a lot of areas of upgrades and modifications. The updated technology, optimized working patterns and good working place are to be considered to draw more people to the post offices.
I would like to draw attention to one of my recent visits to a Gurgaon post office to know about the various services they offer. To my utter surprise, there was a huge crowd. The crowd included old, young, men, women and also some young children aged 14-15 years along with their old grandparents, helping them with the calculations and the writing parts required. The crowd and the transaction that was taking place did prove the post office was doing good and must be having good revenue.
However, what surprised me the most was the disgraced condition of the post office. The area was shabby with almost no maintenance. The building looked like a forbidden place from outside. The plasters were all wearing off, the iron grills all rusted and hardly any clean place to sit for the visitors.
This was not all. When I entered inside to quench my query and to know more about the services and the investment plans, I was more aghast to see the condition of the rooms, the maintenance, the amenities and the condition of the staff members.
There were only two fans in that big room, let alone a good working air conditioner. Those two fans were hardly working even though at their full speed. The people inside were drenched in sweat. The walls were clumsy, shabby and seemed like they would fall apart any time.
The condition of the staff was far worse. Most staff were in their 50s. They looked hopeless, tired, anguished and as though they have not been paid for a long time. Their clothes were almost worn out and old. In no way they looked like government employees who are thought to be paid well. And in our country we fetch another level of respect if we are government employees.
Here it seemed all different. Anyways, I went to the counter to find out what I came here for. The staff who was sitting near a computer offered me help. When he was trying to help me with my queries, another customer came behind me and wanted to know if the computer had started working and when he could withdraw his money?
The staff looked at the man helplessly and replied ”sir the computer is still not working. It’s still updating the window”. To this, the man got infuriated and said that, “this is the 3rd day he has been running around to the post office to withdraw his money and the computer is still not working. Why can’t they do it manually and give the money?” No answer from the staff members.
I offered to help and said that I can guide on updating the window. The reply came, “madam, there is no wi-fi connection for the last one week”. I was taken aback. And the emotion on the face of the staff was as though it’s his fault for not having the wi-fi connectivity. Another staff member came to help and tried to put the angry customer at ease. His face too showed the same helplessness and hopelessness. Ultimately, they requested him to wait and would do the calculation manually and give the amount required.
When I was coming out of the post office, all that was going in my mind was the look of susceptibility and destitute on their face. The fans which were hardly working in the scorching summer of June, the rusted doors and windows, the dismantled tables, the smell of sweat and unease, the vulnerability of the staff, and all these made me feel sorry for the post office staff.
I hope we can do something for them. I would request the concerned departments to keep a timely check on the requirements and the necessities of the offices and the staff members. I wish, the next time I visit the post office, I see a couple of working computers, good sitting arrangement for the staff and the customers, sanitization and a clean and better working arena.