India has the largest post office network in the world with over 1.55 Lakh Post Offices of which about 90% (1.4 L) are in the rural areas. On an average, a Post Office serves an area of 21.21 Sq. Km and a population of 7175 people.
For a country like India, where majority of population still lives in rural areas, post offices have the potential to play a very important role in creating a modern connected India. And to facilitate this, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved Rs. 4909 crore towards IT modernization of 1.55 post offices across India.
The funds of for this project, which comes under National e-Governance plan (NEGP), include the phase-wise implementation spread over 2 years as well as Operation & Maintenance phase for the period of the contract. Under the project, all post-offices will be connected to form one of the largest urban-rural network in the world.
All post-offices will be connected through internet and will offer not only postal, but also other services that include banking, insurance, mobile etc. The modernization of the post offices is also expected to improve speed and reliability of delivery of mailings.
According to the press release, the overall project is segregated into 8 RFPs (Request for Proposals), out of which 5 RFPs have vendors finalized and in 4 cases contracts have been signed as well.
Modernization of post offices will help citizens in many ways including:
- Improving customer satisfaction due to faster and more reliable delivery of services
- Enhancing visibility and transparency
- Providing access by multiple channels to the customers e.g. post office counters, kiosks, internet, mobiles ATMs etc;
- Ensuring delivery of "citizen centric services"
On personal level, I think it is very ambitious project, but like the Aadhar project, it has potential to bring about many positive changes especially in the lives of rural people. These modern post offices could become their window to the world of opportunities. It will also allow them easy access to services that would have been impossible for them earlier!