(Originally Published in 2009)

 “Whenever there is an awakening of a new and stronger life, there it tries to conquer and take the place of the old and the decaying”, said Swami Vivekananda. The India Post perhaps is moving in this direction. 5.55 lakhs of closely knitted individuals through 1.55 lakhs of spots covering every corner of India is as powerful as a nuclear reactor. This is what the strength of the India Post, with an unexploited potential with the most precious human element in it. Most certainly, a new and stronger life as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda could make the India Post, the strong foundation for the developed India, as visualized by our President Dr. Abdul Kalam, by 2020. 

India has come a long way as a developing country and it will be against the theory of evolution, if it continues to remain so. The fairly long journey of the independent India as a developing country has provided a complete insight about how ought to be a ‘developed country’. While every thing is in place for becoming a developed country, the question is whether there is a strong foundation, on which the developed India could stand and sustain and if so, how strong it is? The foundation here would mean the ‘interface’ between everything and everyone.

i.e. the interface between the human and the development. Because, ultimately the development has to benefit the human being, of course not at the cost of the environment, else such development is of no use.

A deep analysis on this issue would reveal that the most appropriate sector, which could become and sustain as a strong foundation (interface) on which the developed India could rely upon and grow, is certainly the Postal Sector. It is Peter Drucker who said that we must build on our strengths. With so many numbers of post offices, covering every remote corner of the country, the India Post, could become the reliable network having a widest reach in the country. No other network can match this network, which is established over the years. Even the present optical fibre network also cannot match. Because, the India Post network has the human element on its base, which cannot be matched by any thing else in this universe. Nevertheless, there is a tremendous scope for exploiting this network for the benefit of the nation and also giving a new life to India Post amidst the technological development, which the world is experiencing.

This strong India Post network can simply do wonders. What is needed is a different integrated approach and a mind set, not only within the sector but also from the outside environment. 

Take for instance, why should there be a situation that every citizen has to apply for the Passport and get it. Why not the Passport be issued to every citizen automatically, without anyone applying for it, through the Post Offices, which are situated in every corner of the country. Like each post office caters to the need of that particular area, why not those already established post offices can be utilized for issue of Passport to every citizen immediately after birth. 

So, if such a document like the passport [Can we call it a New Generation Passport (NGP)!!!] is issued to the citizens at the very beginning, then they will be relieved from undergoing many cumbersome processes at different stages of their life. 

For instance, there is no need for a separate birth certificate, of course the death certificate as well. The NGP itself will serve the purpose. There is no need for applying for passport and so on. The NGP should be good enough for getting admission in the School / college as the child grows. Any other important information the government or any other agency may like to have about the citizen could also be recorded in this NGP. 

In a nutshell, the NGP can become a crucial single document containing educational details, employment details, marital status, and every crucial data relating to each and every citizen. Any adversities on the individuals like the criminal / corruption case etc could also find a place in the NGP. The same NGP can be utilized for getting the visa as well. Incidentally, the system of issue of Passport came in to existence long ago, much before the world became Flat, to borrow the words of Thomas Friedman. It is now high time that this issue is approached from globalization point of view where all resources move across borders freely all the time. 

Thus, the India Post can take the role of a solid interface between the citizens and rest of the agencies / departments with whom citizens have to come into contact for various purposes. This will bring India Post much closer to the citizens as a facilitator and service provider. The changes happened in this area in many developed countries are phenomenal. For instance, during my visit to Germany(in 2006), I was shocked to see the post office of Deutsche Post doing lot more things in addition to mail communication. The ambience of the Post Office itself is something astonishing. I couldn’t resist my temptation from taking a snap of a Post office in a town called Passau in Germany. Here it is:

Nevertheless, when it comes to our own country, as a step further to the already developed countries, we must perhaps aim at each post office becoming a data hub as well, by making them issue the NGPs. There is no area in the country, which is not covered under a post office. Therefore, when all the data hubs are integrated it will result in to a single largest database in the country in which every citizen is covered. By this way, the objective of providing unique citizenship number could also be achieved. It is needless to mention the inherent advantages that could flow, once this position is achieved.

Ultimately, all these may make one wonder, why is the issue of Indian Passport to Indian citizens, an activity under External Affairs! 

Are India Post and the NGP the answers to it? Only time will tell.

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