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BW Businessworld

Postman’s New Role

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DoP can easily expand its basket
of services

The Department of Posts (DoP), represented by the unassuming postman, adds another role for him in rural India. More than 1,200 Grameen Sanchar Sewaks, as they are called in rural India, will now collect the data for preparation of consumer price index (CPI).

It will also help the DoP enhance its revenue potential from non-core business operations. Initially, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) will be paying the DoP for offering Grameen Sanchar Sewaks. The cost of training them will also be done by MOSPI. DoP already runs successful ventures with the State Bank of India for selling loan packages; ICICI Prudential for the collection of insurance premiums through post offices; with Reliance Money for the sale of gold coins; and with Western Union for money transfer. “We are exploiting our strengths, where they are not in conflict with our core business,” says a senior official in the DoP.

Consumer price index is widely used to measure changes in the cost of maintaining a given standard of living. There are four types of consumer price indices: index for industrial workers, index for agricultural labourers, index for rural labourers and index for urban non-manual employees. The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) in MOSPI will use the postal network for collection of data from agricultural labourers and rural labourers. “It will provide us current data and an expanded base in rural areas,” says Pronab Sen, chief statistician of India and secretary of MOSPI.

Only about 75 officers in the CSO are now doing the data collection for rural India. Now with the induction of Grameen Sanchar Sewaks to collect data, about 1,200 villages will be covered. Of 638,365 villages in India, 3,976 have a population of more than 10,000.

(Businessworld Issue Dated 10-16 March 2009)

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