Wednesday, 20 January 2021
Saturday, 16 January 2021
India Post has played a significant role in the
country’s communication and socio-economic development for more than 150 years.
During this time, it has touched the lives of almost every Indian citizen
through its delivery of mail, financial services and the provision of
government social benefit schemes, among a host of other people orientated
With 156,000 Post Offices and 420,000 employees, the country has one of the world’s largest postal networks. The country’s Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) has around 365 Million accounts and deposits amounting to some USD 123 Billion. As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly fanned out across the world, India Post continued to provide its impressive services.
The first COVID-19 case was detected in India on 30 January. As of the end of September there were around 6 million positive cases reported. To try to halt the spread of the virulent disease, the Indian government introduced a national lockdown. This resulted in the stalling of the movement of people and goods; cargo services were also severely affected.
Faced with the enormous scale of these problems, India Post focused on a number of priorities as it aimed to turn the countrywide challenges into opportunities. Acknowledging that the staff’s safety was paramount, India Post launched Standard Operating Procedures at postal work places offering guidance on social distancing, hand washing, thermal scanning, use of masks, disinfection and sanitisation of premises and equipment.
Postal services were identified as essential services during lock down. To meet demand, the vast network of post offices were galvanised to work in coordination with State Governments and local bodies. Control Rooms at India Post Headquarters and Circle (State) Headquarters were established to manage and respond to immediate needs around the country.
India Post also gave the highest possible priority to medical supplies and the payment of wages under government social security benefit schemes. Flights to evacuate expatriates and cargo flights were used for the transport of essential post. The suspension of railway services, the primary mode of mail transport for India Post, also heavily disrupted postal supply chains. To combat this problem, India Post launched its nation-wide Road Transport Network with 56 long haul national routes and 266 regional routes connecting 75 major cities, and a daily run of over 25,000 kilometres.
Using this method, around 40,000 tonnes of shipments were delivered through this network from 25 March to 31 July 2020. Much needed Covid-19 testing kits were also delivered in special cold storage vans using short turnaround times.
India Post also worked during the lockdown to
ensure that the Indian people had access to local financial services. During
lockdown more than 175 Million transactions valued at around US$46 billion were
made through POSB accounts and around 3.5 million POSB ATM transactions worth
US$158 billion took place.
Speaking in the 21 June edition of The Hindu, an English language newspaper in India, Pradipta Kumar Bisoi, secretary, Department of Post, said, “The focus was on the supply chain and the last-mile delivery of essential services as well as the provision of basic postal and financial services.”
Source : https://www.upu.int/en/News/2021/1/India-Post-offers-snapshot-on-confronting-COVID-19
The year 2020 will certainly be a year that we will never forget. Covid-19 has seen borders close, countries lockdown, and physical distancing change the way we work and live. For the postal sector, letter volumes decreased significantly, and workers put their lives on the line to continue delivering mail. But new opportunities arose – ones that fostered inclusion for the entire postal industry and ones that enabled posts to capitalize on the booming e-commerce sector.
Prior to the global widespread outbreak of Covid-19, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) kicked off its year with its High-Level Forum on wider postal engagement – something which became essential during 2020. The event examined how the UPU could deepen private sector engagement. Following the meeting, a task force was set up to propose the way forward. Recommendations from the task force will be fed into the strategy developed for the next four years of the UPU’s business cycle.
Due to the global pandemic, however, the UPU had to make the difficult decision to postpone its 27th Universal Postal Congress, which was to be held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in August 2020. Congress will now be held in August 2021 in Abidjan.
Speaking in March, Hussein said, “I want all of UPU’s many stakeholders to know that, in this difficult time, we will continue to offer you a world-class service and to uphold our postal mandate as a UN specialized agency.”
As part of this commitment, in March the UPU strengthened its relationship with the UNI Global Union – the representative for postal workers worldwide, to help support postal operators and their unions to take informed and pro-active approaches to safeguarding the health of workers and customers.
As a result, posts adopted contactless delivery methods, staggered working rotas for staff, and deployed millions of PPE items – both for employees and for local communities and businesses. The UPU also assisted with the delivery of PPE. In July, the union reported that it had provided 1.2 million masks to least developed countries as part of a joint project with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
The UPU also worked hard to ensure that cross border deliveries could continue. In April, the UPU joined a campaign launched by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to help keep cargo planes moving as governments suspend passenger flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UPU also worked with countries to develop new cross border routes. In a world first, mail-only trains from China helped clear the huge backlog of mail destined for Europe and deliver medical supplies in April. The use of the rail network to deliver mail is a success for the Universal Postal Union’s Supply Chain Team, which championed the rail network for the delivery of mail between Europe and Asia.
During the pandemic posts played an important role in keeping communities connected. In April, the UPU launched a new project to highlight this – an online resource center to collect stories regarding how posts are delivering social and financial services to their citizens. “It shares case studies on successful examples in the hopes of encouraging policy-makers around the world to collaborate with their posts on similar services,” said Hussein.
Post, for example, has provided activity books for children and carried out
daily visits for the elderly. Australia Post, meanwhile, set up its Pharmacy
Home Delivery Service at the end of March to deliver citizens much-needed
medicines. And in France, La Poste helped deliver spare school computer
equipment to children in need.
The UPU also worked closely with posts to help them improve their services. In March, it met with high-level representatives from the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to boost the participation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the country’s e-commerce market as part of the eTrade for All project.
The union also launched a new E-commerce Guide, which charts the explosion in smartphone applications. The guide sets out the UPU’s capacity building and technical assistance to posts to help them succeed in the e-commerce market.
in July using UPU’s PosTransfer standards, Haypost and Russian Post launched
new money transfer systems in the CIS region. The transfer system will offer
financial services to individuals living in the remotest areas of Armenia and
These are just some examples of how the UPU’s work has supported posts throughout 2020. The union continues to innovate. One example in 2020 was the launch of a new blockchain project to create a digital marketplace to host, trade and track crypto-stamps. Furthermore, in August the UPU’s Postal Technology Centre created the eCom API, a package of application programming interfaces (APIs) that builds a comprehensive e-commerce solution. And more recently the UPU has revealed that it will develop a new environmental sustainability program as part of the UPU 2021-2024 Strategy.
Speaking in July, Hussein summarized the key to Covid-19 recovery for the postal sector, “During the pandemic, postal workers have been viewed as essential workers; courageously making the rounds in the face of the deadly virus. Almost every postal operator has been able to adapt and change their business model during this crisis. That is an incredible achievement. If we continue that spirit of innovation, I believe the momentum from the Covid-19 pandemic will drive the industry forward long after the crisis has ended.”