Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Post-offices in makeover mode to woo youth

"This almost looks like a plush branch of a private bank." This is how Yellapragada Rajasekhar, a 24-year-old techie with TCS, reacted on entering a new-generation post-office inaugurated recently here.
This is not an isolated case any longer.
After banks, age-old post-offices are now racing to attract the younger generation with a modern ambience.
Across the country, many offices that have not even been whitewashed for decades are now being refurbished.
"We have renovated 2,515 post-offices as on date, spending Rs 314 crore. The objective behind revamping is to connect with the younger generation," a top executive at India Post headquarters in New Delhi told Business Line over the phone.
More space for customers and staff, single-window counters and modernised mail sorting counters at the back-office are some of the upgrades you will find.
The postal department has drawn up a plan to give another 2,500 post-offices a facelift; 20 per cent of these will be in rural areas.
The department has already got Rs 210 crore approved for this. Launched earlier under 'Project Arrow', the upgradation is now gaining momentum in different States.
Not just looks but the process too is being modernised.
Like the core banking solution in banks, 18,600 post-offices are being brought under a central server.
"Apart from ATMs, we will soon be rolling out online booking of speed post/ parcel," the official said, and added that Rs 4,800 crore has been earmarked for computerisation. Recently, an external audit commissioned by the department has shown 98 per cent customer satisfaction following the upgradations, the official said.
The senior citizens too are happy. "I have been visiting the same office for 30 years now and only saw a post-master endlessly updating passbooks and stamping. The makeover should have come long back," said V. Venkatachari, a retired bank official.
Given the vast network of post-offices, the task appears to be Herculean. Introduced by the British, there are 1,54,822 post-offices in the country, the largest network in the world. It remains to be seen how this makeover can be undertaken in all the offices.

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