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Monday, January 31, 2011

Circle Union wrote to Chief PMG protesting training programmes on Sundays / Holidays:

Dear Comrades,
            As you know, we have already protested   regading imparting training to staff members on Sundays / Holidays by Orissa Postal Circle administration and requested the intervention of Circle Union to restrict the training programmes to working days only.
             Now Circle Union has written to the Chief PMG, Orissa in this regard. The copy of the letter is reproduced below for information of our members.

Award for initiative in MGNREGA Administration

Kudos to all the staff members of Phulbani Division

Orissa’s Kandhamal District is one of the 10 districts selected under the scheme of award for initiative in MGNREGA Administration which will be presented in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on 02.02.2011.
Phulbani Postal Division has played a major role with massive contribution in getting this prestigious award for which the Project Director DRDA, Kandhamal has nominated Sri Padmanav Dash, ASP, Phulbani as a team member Kandhamal to remain present at Vigyan Bhawan on 02.02.2011.
In this contest, we congratulate all the staff members of Phulbani Division who have taken a lot of pain in implementing the MGNREGS successfully with utmost devotion through their restless efforts beyond working hours in spite of acute shortage of staff and completely ignoring their personal health and problems only for the goodwill of the Department.
Hope, the Department will acknowledge such sincerity, devotion and sacrifice of the staff members also.
The letters of the Ministry of Rural Development and D R D A, Kandhamal are reproduced below for the information of our viewers.

India Post signs MoU's with various countries: Secretary DOP

The India Post shall also fulfill its commitment of e-commerce transactions for shipment services to all countries at most economic rates apart from e-commerce, postal and e-market facilitation

India Post has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China, Australia, Bhutan, Germany UAE, Hong Kong Italy France and South Africa Posts, to provide highly customized business services especially to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Stating this at the Assocham meeting today the Secretary, Department of Posts (DoP), Ms. Radhika Duraiswamy said the MoUs shall facilitate flow of goods, information, funds and e-commerce.

She further said the department shall provide international Express Mail Services (EMS) for express documents and parcels up to 35 kg universally recognized barcodes for all express shipments pre-printed customs documentation and joint express product.

Ms Radhika also stated that it has been decided to have international parcel flat rate boxes one rate for delivery anywhere in the world, priority shipments with universal barcodes and logistic services especially with those countries.

The special customized business packages includes solutions for business shipment, dedicated small packet shipments corridor at most economic rates with assured priority customs clearances processing by USPS and web based delivery.

While responding to the suggestions mooted by Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat, the Secretary Post said direct marketing with specific customer centres across various countries for promoting business using available data base shall also be extended.

The India Post shall also fulfill its commitment of e-commerce transactions for shipment services to all countries at most economic rates apart from e-commerce, postal and e-market facilitation, she further added.
Courtesy: India Infoline News Service, 25th January, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Workers on agitation - world wide

Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific


Bangladeshi pharmaceutical worker killed in police attack

On January 23, temporary worker Enamul Haque, 25, died of injuries after police stormed a sit-in protest by over 400 Advanced Chemical Industries (ACI) factory workers in Siddhirganj, near Dhaka. Witnesses said that police fired over 30 teargas canisters and 100 rubber bullets hospitalising over 100 employees.
The strike was part of a long-running dispute over wages and permanency. The factory employs 167 full-time workers and 240 temporary workers on the minimum wage. Temporary workers, many who have been at the factory for over 20 years, are not paid bonuses or other entitlements. One worker told the media that management “hired or fired workers at whim”.
ACI is a major Asian manufacturer and distributor of drugs, agricultural chemical and pesticide products, and basic health products.


Andhra Pradesh government employees return to work

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) representing over one million state government employees, including teachers, office workers and pensioners, called off a three-day strike commenced on January 19, following an agreement with the government on implementation of pay commission recommendations. The government agreed to implement six of JAC’s 12 demands immediately with further negotiations on the rest.
Demands accepted by the government included a 20 percent pay increase, 20 percent increase in rent allowances, filling of all vacancies, improved medical facilities, abolition of the teachers’ apprentice system, improved promotional arrangements and regularisation of village officials in temporary posts.

Andhra Pradesh police fire at protesting cement workers

Jindal cement factory management at Gadivemula, Kurnool called police on January 23 to intervene against a rally at the factory by employees demanding compensation for the family of a construction worker who fell to his death at the plant. Police fired bullets over the heads of the protesting employees. Workers ended the protest after the manager agreed to pay the compensation demanded.

Tamil Nadu stainless steel utensil workers remain on strike

Over 1,000 workers in the stainless steel utensil manufacturing zone at Anupparpalayam, Tirupur have been on strike since December 29, after 11 rounds of talks for a new pay agreement failed. The negotiations began in October, after the previous 30-month agreement expired.
In an attempt to wind up the dispute and appease the employers the eight registered unions, including the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All India Trade Union Congress and Labour Progressive Front, reduced their original pay demand from 70 percent to 30 percent while employers have increased their offer from 17 percent to 25 percent.
Utensil workers have not had a pay increase for three years. The average inflation rate over the past decade is over 8 percent and food prices are projected to rise by over 15 percent in 2011.

Tamil Nadu noon-meal workers arrested

At least 79 members of the Tamil Nadu Noon Meal Employees Association were arrested on January 21 while protesting in Udhagamandalam to demand payment of salaries on a time scale basis and their inclusion in the list of government employees. The protest was part of a state-wide struggle by the state school midday meal workers for regularisation of service, wage increases and a pension and general provident fund.
In August, Tamil Nadu’s Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam government ordered the arrest of almost 10,000 protesting noon-meal workers, most of them women, as they travelled to the state capital Chennai to demonstrate for their demands. Over 2,000 demonstrators at 18 separate locations in Chennai were arrested and held in community halls.

Karnataka tyre workers’ strike in third month

Over 300 temporary employees of Falcon Tyres in Mysore have been on strike since November 4 to demand benefits on par with regular and contract employees. Falcon employs over 1,680 personnel, including 550 regular employees, 800 contract workers and 334 temporary workers.
A Falcon Tyres Badali Karmikara Sangha union official has alleged that management is refusing to implement decisions agreed to at a meeting witnessed by the labour minister and workers’ representatives. The deal included a provision to employ temporary workers in place of retired regular employees.
The company manufactures tyres for the local and export markets under the brand names of Dunlop, Donin and Falcon.

Uttar Pradesh public servants strike

Hundreds of UP Ministerial Collectorate Karmchari Sangh members stopped work and demonstrated at district headquarters in Varanasi last week in support of 14 demands. Workers want improved pay scales and other facilities on par with secretariat employees. One speaker claimed that village level government employees were drawing better salaries than collectorate employees. The public servants also want more senior officers at district offices.
The protesters threatened to strike from February 8 to 10 and hold a sit-in demonstration in Lucknow from March 9 to 11 if their demands are not met.

Kerala resident doctors walk out

Up to 430 resident doctors at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital walked off the job for an indefinite period on January 25 as part of a state-wide campaign called by the Kerala Medical Postgraduates Association (KMPA) over conditions and allowances.
KMPA members want the recent fee increases revoked, accommodation on campus for all resident doctors, 24-hour access to laboratory facilities, adequate supply of medicines in operation theatres and payment of festival allowances. The resident doctors are postgraduate and diploma students who are paid a fixed stipend for their work at the hospital.

Gujarat power-loom workers end strike

Tens of thousands of migrant textile workers who operate over 450,000 power-looms in Surat, Gujarat ended their five-day strike on January 21 after employers agreed to increase wages. They were demanding a 10 paise (0.1 rupee) increase per metre of cloth produced. No detail of the employers’ offer has been released to the media.
Many factories, however, remained closed last weekend because many of the striking employees were reluctant to return to work fearing employer reprisals. Many protesting workers were injured during the strike after police intervened in demonstrations and arrested 80 strikers and several union delegates.
The Surat weaving sector manufactures 30 million metres of fabric per day and employs about 700,000 migrant workers from Orissa, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Sri Lankan postal workers lift work bans

Up to 15,000 postal workers across the island have lifted an over-time ban which paralysed 600 post offices, nine mail sorting centres and delaying delivery of hundreds of thousands of postal items, including postal voting leaflets for the forthcoming Provincial Elections. The bans were lifted after the postal minister agreed to fulfil some of the demands.
Postal Trade Union Front members imposed bans between January 21 and 24 to demand the immediate filling of 7,000 vacancies, payment of salaries and overtime before the tenth day of the month, and resolution of various promotion anomalies.

Pakistan power company reinstates thousands of sacked workers

At least 4,300 Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) employees made redundant on January 19 have been reinstated, following pressure from the government. KESC, in line with cost-cutting measures following its privatisation, offered termination packages to 4,500 non-technical and non-core employees. Only 400 workers accepted the offer.
Sacked workers began picketing KESC’s head office in Gizri on January 20 but were attacked by police and hired thugs. The KESC accused the provincial government of having “aided, abetted and even instigated” the violence.
The former state-owned KESC sold more than 70 percent of its shares to a Middle Eastern consortium in 2005. The government has been critical of the utility’s failure to increase power generation, which it says was one of the conditions of the sell-off.
Australia and the Pacific

Australian truck drivers begin rolling stoppages

TWU members employed by the logistics company TNT Australia began four-hour rolling stoppages on Friday and imposed an indefinite ban on the loading and unloading of vehicles operated by outside hire companies at all TNT sites.
The 2,500 workers, including drivers and dockhands, voted for action after TNT cancelled a fresh round of negotiations scheduled for Tuesday in a dispute for a new work agreement.
While TNT and the union have agreed to an 8 percent pay rise over two years, the company has rejected claims for an extra 2 percent employer contribution to superannuation and site rate increases for 3,000 casual or labour hire employees.
The union claims to have already negotiated a 12 percent pay rise over three years for logistics workers at Linfox, including an agreement from the operator to lift superannuation to 15 percent.

New South Wales power workers continue strike action

Over 60 casual contract workers manning a picket at the Eraring Power Station on Lake Macquarie have voted unanimously to continue their dispute for a second week over wages and conditions. The Australian Workers Union (AWU) members are employed by contract company Power Projects International to do a $600 million upgrade on one of the power station’s four boilers.
An AWU official said their members were doing construction type work but paid under a maintenance agreement. According to the official, the construction pay rate was $10 an hour above the maintenance rate with additional allowances. Fair Work Australia was due to begin hearing the case on January 21.

New South Wales community nurses demonstrate

Community and mental health nurses in the Hunter Area held a lunch time rally on January 24 outside the Charlestown electoral office of state Labor member of parliament Matthew Morris to demand they be included in the new work agreement currently being negotiated with the NSW Nurses Association.
On January 12, the Nurses Association shut down statewide industrial action by its members after the government offered to enter talks. The nurses, who had shutdown 600 beds across the state, want a one-to-four nurse-to-patient ratio and improved wages. The government’s offer did not include community and mental health nurses.

Western Australian waterside workers strike

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members employed by stevedoring company Patrick at the Western Australian southern ports of Fremantle and Albany have voted unanimously to strike for up to five days beginning this Saturday. Workers want a 30 percent pay rise over three years, improved safety and an end to casual employment. At least 200 MUA members in Western Australia walked off the job in December after Patrick refused to negotiate. Two weeks ago colleagues at the Geelong and Webb docks in Melbourne struck for 24 hours and 72 hours respectively over the issue.
Three port workers have been killed in fatal accidents in 2010 and 60 percent of the Patrick workforce are employed as casuals, with some having remained casuals for up to 9 years.

Queensland bus drivers locked out

Sunbus drivers on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast were locked out by management on Tuesday after attending a stop work meeting outside their depot. This is the fifth time in seven weeks that the company’s buses have been off the road over a new work agreement. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) called off planned strike action in early January after the owner and operator of Sunbus, Transit Australia Group (TAG), agreed to resume talks. TAG failed to attend the meetings, however, and instead demanded that the dispute be referred to the national workplace relations tribunal Fair Work Australia.
According to the TWU, TAG wants to force its 200 drivers back onto award pay rates and conditions. This means wage cuts of up to $4 an hour and the elimination of allowances won over the last 10 years. The TWU wants a 4 percent pay rise and current entitlements maintained. 

Sweet and sour
The desi angrezi
By Khushwant Singh

We are not fully aware that the educated middle class of India and Pakistan are evolving a new lingo which is a mixture of English and Hindustani.

To emphasise something we repeat the same word twice, eg: to say something is very hot we say hot, hot (garma, garm). Very common is to add the word ‘only’ at the end of a sentence, eg: when asked “Where are you from?” The reply is “I am from Delhi only.” The chief exponent of this khichree lingo is Moni Mohsin of Lahore.

Her pieces from ‘The Diary of a Social Butterfly’ appeared occasionally in ‘The Indian Express’ and now regularly in ‘The Mail’. They are great fun to read. She was recently in Delhi for the launch of her second book ‘Tender Hooks’ (Random House). I had described her earlier publication as ‘hilarious’ this one is hilarity unbound, for hours it takes to read. The theme is about the search of a suitable bride for a young bachelor. She must be (khandani), from a good family, good-looking (khoobsurat) and bring a big dowry (dahej). Most of the story is told through a dialogue between women of the boy’s family. I reproduce the first chapter as a sample of what you will get. It will keep you laughing to the last page.

“You know Jonkers, na? Oho baba, what’s happened to you? Everything you are forgetting. I think so you must have got sterile dementia. Like poor old Uncle Cock-up. All right, I’ll tell you again, but only this one time. Next time you ask I’m not telling, kay? Jonkers is my cousin. He’s my aunty Pussy’s one and only child. Her sun and air. Who is Aunty Pussy? Honestly! I can’t believe I’m hearing this. Next you’ll be asking me your own name. Aunty Pussy is Mummy’s cousin from her mother’s side. Their mummies were sisters. If I was English I’d say Jonkers was my first cousin once removed. As if cousins were bikini lines, once removed, twice removed, hundred times removed, but still there. And Uncle Cock-up is his father.

Haan, so where was I? Yes, Jonkers. It was his 37th birthday last night and Aunty Pussy took us all — Mummy, me, her, and Jonkers also — to Cuckoo’s restaurant for dinner in the Old City next to the Badhshahi Mosque. I like Cuckoo’s because everyone says it’s tabahi. Foreigners tau just love coming here. Or they did before the suicide bombs started in Lahore also. It’s a bit bore that Cuckoo’s is in the Old City, with its bad toilet smells and all its crumbly-crumbly, old-old houses, but at least all those prostitutes who used to live nearby in the Diamond Market have gone off to Defence Housing Society to live in little kotis, their politicians and feudal boyfriends have bought them. So no chance, thanks God, of bumping into bad charactered types. Unless it’s suicide bombers, of course. But then tau you can bump into anywhere, thanks to the army which has given jihadis safe heavens all over Pakistan.

“And also it’s a bit bore that you have to climb 55,000 steps to get on top of Cuckoo but view from there is fab. You can look right inside the coat yard of the mosque. But we couldn’t, because there was so much of smog. Lahore has three problems — smog, traffic, and terrorists. Otherwise tau it’s just fab.

Anyways, Aunty Pussy had also invited Janoo (He’s my husband, in case you’ve forgotten that also now) but Janoo was in his bore village, Sharkpur. Okay, okay, I suppose it’s our village because I’m his wife but thanks God, I’m not from there and I haven’t been there for three years. Janoo spends half his time there, na, sewing his crops and looking after his mango and orange and kinno orchids, sorry sorry I meant orchards. But because I don’t sew the crops, and I only spend the money we get from the crops, it’s best for me to live in Lahore where the shops are. Aunty Pussy also invited Kulchoo but he said he was doing homework. His GCSEs are on top of his head but I think so he was reading Facebook. Such a little bookworm my baby is.”

Mohsin writes regularly for ‘Friday Times’, published from Lahore. Her novel ‘The End of Innocence’ won her an award. The family now lives in London.

Our postal services

A few weeks ago a Mrs P V Rao who lives in Bhubaneswar wanted to say something about what I had written, but did not have my address. So after my name she wrote ‘Man in the bulb’ with an address of her own making: ‘AB to SJ Avenue, New Delhi-110029.’ Someone in our postal services cut out her fabricated address and wrote my correct address and I got her letter. I was most impressed by their efficiency.
20 years ago I did not know anyone who had the same name as mine. Now there are a few in the telephone directory. Occasionally, I get letters not meant for me. I toss them in the waste paper basket. Now I do get some letters with only New Delhi as the address. I feel flattered and admiration for our postal services increases. The greatest compliment they paid me was the time when Bhindranwale was on the rampage in Punjab. It was from one of his admirers in Canada. The contents were in Gurmukhi and full of earthy abuses for me. The address was in English: ‘Bastard Khushwant Singh, India’. Someone in our postal department put my correct address and the letter was delivered to me. My admiration for our postal services went up sky high.

Source: Deccan Herald, 29 January, 2011

Speed Post Incentive Bills sanctioned upto December-2010

Dear Comrades,
           The SSPOs, Bhubaneswar has sanctioned Speed Post Incentive Bills, both for booking and delivery of some offices up to December, 2010. The offices which have submitted the bills and not sanctioned yet may intimate to pursue their cases. The offices which have not submitted the bills are requested to expedite submission of the same.
           The copy of D O Memeo No.BD/1-7/10-11, dated 20.01.2011 is reproduced below.

India Post Finds New Life as an Insurance Provider

As Traditional Services Go Digital, India Post Finds New Life as an Insurance Provider

Three decades ago, Tilak Ram was a mere part-time employee at India Post. Technically a Gramin Dak Sevak -- an "extra departmental employee" -- he has come a long way since. Today, Ram's spartan office-cum-home in rural Laksar, in the northern state of Uttaranchal, is constantly bustling with people. The 53 year-old Ram is a postal worker outside the regular cadre; there are thousands of them across India. Over the years, he has become the single-point contact for over 6,000 rural households across 12 villages around Laksar to sell mobile phone cards and postal stationery, update post office savings bank accounts, deliver pension money, and collect postal life insurance premiums.
Ram has now logged an impressive track record in India Post's fastest growing business -- rural postal life insurance (RPLI). In the last fiscal year, Ram, who earns a monthly salary of US$135 plus commission, sold 250 RPLI policies with a total sum assured of US$28,000. This bull run for Ram and 300,000 other GDSs who reach out to 730 million people across 600,000 villages, has established India Post as one of the largest players in the rural life insurance business.
Today, RPLI has a corpus of US$890 million. India Post has sold 10 million RPLI policies between their 1995 launch and 2009-2010. But most of those sales occurred after November 2009, and 40% of them are micro insurance policies where the individual sum assured is less than US$550.
"We adopted an innovative approach to leverage our distribution reach in the pursuit of socially relevant objectives," says Uday Balakrishnan, who recently retired as member of the Postal Services Board and chairman of the Investment Board of India Post.
The RPLI numbers, say insurance analysts, makes India Post the largest micro insurance player in the US$13 billion Indian life insurance game. The quasi-government behemoth -- Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) -- sold 1.9 million micro insurance products last year with a 2.5 million target for fiscal 2011, according to Hemant Bhargava, executive director micro insurance at LIC. "There is a growing awareness amongst different pockets of the economy that you have to carry all sections of the population together, which makes micro insurance critical," he says.
In fact, financial inclusion was one of the drivers for India Post to reinvent itself as an insurer to be reckoned with. "Earlier, people couldn't do without us," says Abhishek Singh, senior superintendent of Post Offices in Dehradun in north India. "Now there's competition and we have to reinvent ourselves to be socially relevant." Many of India Post's mainline businesses like personal mail and telegrams have been battered -- volumes are down by 40% over the last decade -- by the technological advances of the Internet era.
Today, India Post's most popular product continues to be the postal savings bank, which holds the savings of over 200 million small investors and is growing. A recently released report by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry and PricewaterhouseCoopers projects household savings to reach US$5 trillion by 2020, up from US$330 billion currently. "The government wanted to harness these funds, which are still growing, and insurance became the ideal vehicle," notes Rashesh Shah, chairman of investment bank Edelweiss Capital, and an advisor to India Post.
Insurance was always part of India Post's portfolio: The service began with Postal Life Insurance (PLI) in 1884, aimed at government and semi-government employees. More than a century and a quarter later, PLI had covered only 10% of the eligible applicants in the category. When the RPLI was launched in 1995, it targeted women in the hinterland, with the maximum sum assured at US$6,520. But in the 15 years since its launch, the postal department sold a mere 10 million RPLI policies, despite rural India being home to two-thirds of the country's population of 1.2 billion.
The potential to address a larger audience also became clear in the low penetration of insurance in India's smaller towns and villages, particularly among the poor. "There is a growing recognition amongst insurance providers of the need for insurance to this population," says Shamika Ravi, assistant professor of economics at the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business. A 2009 NCAER-Max New York Life survey shows that only 19% of rural households have life insurance coverage, compared to 38% of those in urban areas.
As for India Post, the agency never emphasized insurance as a major line of business and was content to promote its other products, including Speed Post (a courier service) and postal savings. It also became a distribution conduit for third party vendors. But mounting competition forced the organization to bring the insurance portfolio off the back burner, and leverage its longstanding relationship with people in the hinterland. "The postal department has a lot of goodwill and trust with rural people, which works well for insurance," notes S.C. Dash, professor of rural insurance at the National Insurance Academy, the country's apex training institute in Pune in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.
The larger idea, according to India Post's Balakrishnan, was to "help poor cohorts to organize their savings and engage them in the financial markets, to become part of the economic growth story." A majority of the cohorts were already familiar with India Post and had been using its services for years. India Post zeroed in on this captive audience for insurance. "Selling insurance to the poor was one way of locking in customers who were associated with the postal department through the savings bank," according to Edelweiss' Shah.
The trigger was largely a new government initiative to promote financial inclusion, competition from the Internet and other sources and the realization that India Post had an enviable, but underutilized, distribution channel. India Post has one of the best distribution networks in the country: There are 500,000 employees in 155,670 outlets, of which 89% operate in rural destinations, including remote and hilly terrain. They touch base with each of the 600,000 villages in India on a daily basis.
Battling the Private Sector
While the public sector India Post initially underestimated the potential of this distribution muscle, private players willingly piggybacked on the channel to sell mutual funds, gold coins and even consumer products because it made sense to tie up with an entity offering a cost-effective reach into the deep interiors.
Or consider the American remittance heavyweight Western Union, which tied up with the postal department for a pan-India presence a decade ago and saw its business soar. "There is a synergistic relationship," says Kiran Shetty, Western Union's regional vice-president, about the company's association with India Post. "We have a strong global bond and India Post denotes trust, offering an emotional connect to consumers."
Western Union doesn't reveal the amount of money that passes through the postal channel daily, but Shetty states that India Post continues to be one of its largest partners. Out of the 63,000 locations, including retail and banks that Western Union transacts from, 7,000 locations are under the purview of India Post.
In the past few years, private insurers too connected with India Post to reach out to rural customers. For years, millions of rural poor shunned insurance as a product they did not need or could not afford. But it's the insurance companies that cannot afford to ignore them now. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) guidelines stipulate that rural India should account for 7% of the policies private insurers write in the first year of operation, and 20% in the tenth year. As a result, most of the country's 23 life insurers and 21 general insurance companies have been seeking to expand coverage in rural India.
But maneuvering the rural maze is a different ballgame altogether. "Personal connections and trust built over the years play a key role in customer interaction. Local people are important to sell micro insurance and collect premiums from the poor," says Iddo Dror, director of operations at the New Delhi-based Micro Insurance Academy. India Post's Gramin Dak Sevaks hail from the same rural milieu as their customers, ensuring market proximity. As India Post is a household name in the hinterland, it became the ideal conduit for the last-mile connectivity for private insurance companies. Players like ICICI Prudential and Dabur Aviva entered into referral agreement partnerships with India Post in various states to distribute and service their insurance offerings.
The honeymoon with private players, though, hasn't been a pleasant experience for the postal department. Managers at India Post complained that selling competitors' insurance products has proved counterproductive. "We were being undermined by private players who were using our extensive reach, and subverting our product, by offering hidden incentives to our counter staff," notes Balakrishnan. After a brief romance, India Post severed ties with private insurers last year.
More recently, the IRDA has said that private insurers could use the India Post network to distribute their products. The postal department, however, is yet to make the call on whether to align with competitors. One constraint is the agency's inability to match the gifts and cash incentives that the deep-pocketed private players tend to offer to its front office people in order to "motivate them" to sell that company's products.
Challenge and Opportunity
To beat competition, India Post is now milking its contact with the masses for all it's worth. The agency is reaching out to over 50 million participants in the National Rural Employment Guarantee effort (NREG) -- New Delhi's largest and most ambitious poverty alleviation program to increase the purchasing power of rural Indians. India Post is one of the main channels to distribute money to NREG recipients.
As the government intervention is putting money into otherwise unemployed hands, the recipients have emerged as an ideal target for RPLI coverage. "This segment, along with our relationships with large numbers of rural savings bank holders, gives us a certain customer intimacy that others would be hard-pressed to match," says Balakrishnan.
To reach out to this audience, India Post managers say they had to "examine and evaluate every process in the life insurance cycle to cut down waste." To capture the loose change spent on tobacco products in rural India, for example, the daily premium was pegged at an affordable 2 cents for micro insurance and 13 cents for larger policies. The mandatory medical examination was also waived, making it easy for the poor to warm up to insurance.
The product was backed by a compelling selling proposition -- one offering long-term financial stability to families that would provide for their children's education. "There is an aspiration out there that the next generation must do better, and people are willing to sacrifice today's consumption for children's education tomorrow," according to Rajeev Srinivasan, professor of corporate strategy and policy area at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
A big issue was the lack of awareness of insurance products amongst India Post's half-million employees operating in rural areas. Today, senior officers conduct rigorous training sessions for the Gramin Dak Sevaks and other staff to motivate and educate them on the product portfolio and the business opportunities. "We are gaining momentum now, and need to constantly train our people," says Sanjay Singh, director of postal services in Uttaranchal.
The pilot project of the revitalized RPLI was held in September 2009 at Etikoppaka, a small village with verdant sugarcane plantations in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. RPLI's "education for children" proposition clicked with people, and almost all the 2,500 village adults in Etikoppaka bought micro insurance. "More than a risk cover, I looked at RPLI insurance as part of a savings strategy," says T. Gowriamma, who sells wooden toys in the village, and dreams of putting her young daughter and son through high school and college.
Buoyed by the experience, there are plans to position insurance, which brings in 5% of India Post's revenue today, as the main revenue earner in the next couple of years, according to Shekhar Kumar Sinha, chief general manager in charge of postal life insurance. The RPLI target for 2012 is to sell a minimum of 35 million policies. To meet the goals, India Post revised the incentive structure for its staff. Earlier, every US$2,170 sum assured policy sold fetched them a US$5.50 commission. Since last year, they earn a flat 10% commission on every premium paid. "Now everyone wants to sell more policies," adds Sinha.
India Post may have reinvented itself to face the big boys in the insurance sector, but there are challenges ahead. Already, the work load is putting pressure on the organization's antiquated infrastructure. "Service quality on a mass scale is a terrific ... challenge," notes Balakrishnan. Unlike private players who have dedicated staff for insurance, all the India Post employees have been multitasking, doing mails, money orders, savings bank transactions and insurance. Says IIM professor Srinivasan: "The private players are more customer focused. The post office has a track record on trust, but it's onerous. People will have to be more customer-centric."
A lack of product portfolio is another issue. Once rural customers enter the system, they yearn for more sophisticated financial products like crop and medical insurance, according to Dash of the National Insurance Academy. At the moment, India Post offers only life insurance while private players are offering a bouquet of services.
RPLI's rapid growth has left India Post over extended, says Shekhar Sinha. As a result, India Post has scaled down the 2012 target for RPLI from an initial 100 million policies to 35 million policies. The growth has also magnified many shortcomings, like the lack of marketing skills of the post personnel compared to aggressive competitors. "Is the current activity sustainable in the long term? How much of this passion permeates to the bottom of the pile?" asks Srinivasan.
There are plans to spin off the insurance business as a separate entity. This could be a challenge or an opportunity, whichever way India Post looks at it.

As Published on January 27, 2011 in India Knowledge@Wharton

Friday, January 28, 2011

Latest Recruitment Rules for MTS

Latest Recruitment Rules for Postmen and Mail Guard.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

March to Parliament on 23.02.2011:

Dear Comrades,
The copy of Circle Union letter No.UN/AIPEU-Gr.-C/Orissa/01-11, dated 24.01.2011 is re-produed below fixing Division-wise delegates to make the march to Parliament on 23.02.2011 a grand success.

First Page Entry in Service Book:

Dear Comrades,
The SSPOs, Bhubaneswar has asked for first page entry in Service Book in case of some newly joined P As.
The copy of D O letter No.B.8-2/2002, dated 21.01.2011 is reproduced below for information,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Republic Day

We wish all our viewers a very special and memorable happy Republic Day


Postal News from foreign countries:

U S Postal Service Eyes Closing Thousands of Post Offices
            The U.S. Postal Service plays two roles in America: an agency that keeps rural areas linked to the rest of the nation, and one that loses a lot of money.
Now, with the red ink showing no sign of stopping, the postal service is hoping to ramp up a cost-cutting program that is already eliciting yelps of pain around the country. Beginning in March, the agency will start the process of closing as many as 2,000 post offices, on top of the 491 it said it would close starting at the end of last year. In addition, it is reviewing another 16,000—half of the nation's existing post offices—that are operating at a deficit, and lobbying Congress to allow it to change the law so it can close the most unprofitable among them. The law currently allows the postal service to close post offices only for maintenance problems, lease expirations or other reasons that don't include profitability.
The news is crushing in many remote communities where the post office is often the heart of the town and the closest link to the rest of the country. Shuttering them, critics say, also puts an enormous burden on people, particularly on the elderly, who find it difficult to travel out of town.
The postal service argues that its network of some 32,000 brick-and-mortar post offices, many built in the horse-and-buggy days, is outmoded in an era when people are more mobile, often pay bills online and text or email rather than put pen to paper. It also wants post offices to be profitable to help it overcome record $8.5 billion in losses in fiscal year 2010.
A disproportionate number of the thousands of post offices under review are in rural or smaller suburban areas, though the postal service declined to provide any estimate on how many beyond those slated to begin closure in March might ultimately close or which ones are being targeted. "We want to make the smartest decisions possible with the smallest impact on communities," Dean Granholm, vice president for delivery and post office operations, said in an interview. He said the agency is identifying locations that are operating at a deficit and looking "for the opportunity to start the process of closing."
In addition to reducing employees—it has cut staffing by a third since 1999— the postal service has sought for years to deal with financial woes by raising rates or cutting services, such as a proposal to drop Saturday delivery. It has also talked in the past about closing a much smaller number of post offices. But while closures have been "on the table" in the past, this push is the agency's most serious yet, Granholm said, and is drawing widespread interest from a cost-cutting Congress. Still, shutting down post offices is often politically unpopular: elected officials in several communities have already written the Postal Regulatory Commission protesting planned closures
Courtesy: The Wall Street Journal,  January 24, 2011

India Post invites suggestions from the members of public:

Department of Posts (DOP) a more than 150 years old organization, provides services through its network of 1,50,000 offices, a majority of them being in rural areas. India Post connects all of India with mail, banking and insurance services.
It is also the last mile provider of Government schemes such as payment of old age pension and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
2.         Urbanization, increased demand for financial services, increased funding by the government for the weaker sections in the rural sector have opened up new opportunities for the Department of Posts which has necessitated development of new processes and supporting technology. The DOP is also faced with the challenge of keeping pace with the advances in communication technology. In order to provide the best-in-class customer service, deliver new services and improve operational efficiencies, the DOP is undertaking an end to end IT modernization project to equip itself with the requisite modern tools and technologies. Some of the salient features that are expected to be in place in the next two years are:-

- All the post offices to be fully networked and ICT enabled.
- Centralized Banking Services for Urban and unbanked rural population.
- End to end tracking of accountable articles.
- 24 x 7 call centres.
- Multiple channel of access to customers e.g., post office counters, kiosks, internet, ATMs etc.

3.         The Department of Posts thus envisions to connect people, organizations and government using physical and electronic networks with the following objectives:-
 (i) Modernization of postal services.
(ii) Improving the reach of postal services.
(iii) Improving the quality of services and develop, implement and operate a system of standards with accountable performance.

4.         We are in the process of developing a Strategic Plan for the Department which will set the roadmap for achieving the above objectives. As important stakeholders in this journey, India Post, requests its customers to share their views on how India Post can achieve its objectives. Feedback on the following is requested by 04/02/2001 at

(i)            What kind of post office would meet your expectation – the infrastructure in the     post office, facilities and services?
(ii)           How to make postal service customer friendly?
(iii)          How can the existing products and services be made more attractive?
(iv)         What new services and facilities can India Post provide to meet the new and emerging needs of customers.

News from CHQ:

Dear Comrades,
For the first time two union representatives were invited as faculty members to the Postal Staff College Ghaziabad for deliberation on a topic titled “Staff issues in Transformation of India Post” and our beloved General Secretary Com. K V Sridharan was on them. During his 40 minutes oration he represented all the problems faced by the staff members at grass root level especially in Project Arrow / Computerized Offices.

It is worth mentioning here that most of the problems faced by the project arrow post offices are being intimated by us to our General Secretary from time to time. Even before such a representation, we have also discussed some issues with suitable suggestions with the General Secretary over telephone. This Divisional union is quite thankful to the General Secretary for incorporating in his oration many issues and suggestions  given by us.

The gist of his presentation as published in our CHQ website is reproduced below for information of our members.

       The Postal Staff College of India, Ghaziabad has organized an interaction programme with the 16 Senior Administrative Grade Officers likely to be promoted to HAG (Chief PMG) on 19.01.2011 from 1430 hours on the topic of “Staff issues in Transformation of India Post”. Com. K. V. Sridharan, General Secretary and Com. D. Theyagarajan, Secretary General FNPO were invited to have interaction on the topic for free and frank discussion to arrive at some agreed solution to the issues concerned.
             This is the first time that two union representatives were invited as faculty members to the Postal Staff college and allotted 30 minutes each for oration on the topic. Com. K. V. Sridharan, General Secretary has taken 40 minutes on the following issues which were well received by the senior officers of the department. The gist of his presentation on the problems existing in Project Arrow offices and other modernization programme is furnished below for the notice of our members.
              At the outset, he made it clear that the proposed changes are inevitable when the Govt decides to amend the Post office Act and makes the Post office also as one of the players in the communication market and the trade unions are not against any advancement or modernization of postal services but against any such move of privatization, corporatization etc. But many schemes are being introduced even without consultations with circle heads and they are forced to implement such decisions ignoring the realities prevailing at base levels and the feasibilities resulting failures of the schemes. Formation of Hubs for speed post articles resulted heavy delay and public criticism in delivery of speed post.
             The following issues are not attended or not cared resulting failure in the object of the project arrow and this require immediate correction.
(1) Project Arrow is fine but not succeeded due to operational inefficiency in the absence of adequate staff.
(2) Staffs are compelled to furnish fictitious statistics that become a demoralizing factor.
(3) Project Arrow inspection team guided the offices to enter only the paid MOs relating to Family pension, Old Age pension etc. as MOs received for delivery just to show 100% delivery.
(4) In adequate supply of Computer peripherals, accessories and no power to the Postmaster to incur any expenditure for urgent natures. Inadequacy of printers and almost condemned servers with slow pace available in many Project Arrow offices.
(5)Inadequate personnel deployed for trouble shooting like Systems Administrators to attend the faults.
(6) Even antivirus soft wares are not provided in many circles like Orissa to the computers. There are no proper AMCs. For Generators also there is no AMC and many of them are out of order.
(7) Unscientific fixation of last receipt time. The last receipt should be before 1500 hours. No article should be kept under deposit or shown as delivered or redirected to other town SOs to ensure 100% delivery.
(8) Bar codes to Speed Post articles are sub standard. Duplication of scanning of Speed Post articles must be avoided. The power of RAM should be increased, Spare & Additional accessories must be provided to all offices.
(9)  The present measurement of KPI uniform to all offices right from HSG-I to single handed offices is incorrect. This will demotivate the bigger offices where there are chances of return of articles.
(10) The provision of alternative mail route as provided in the blue book and vested with the divisional superintendents for effective conveyance of mails is not at all adhered anywhere. Only the DMSL is adhered. The provision of Citizen Charters D + 2 is not maintained.
(11)Citizen Charter’s meetings should be conducted as post office levels by divisional heads. So that the public can ventilate their pleasure and displeasure in the presence of concerned Postmasters.
(12) There are contrary in citizen’s Charter and norms fixed by the Department. For example for registration of Savings Certificate, it is 10 mts per registration as per the norms. Where as it is 7 minutes per certificate as per citizen charters. There should not be difference in norms.
(13)Now settlement of SB claims in finally vested with Postmasters. The time limit as per citizen charter & KPI disturbed the practicability in disposal of claims.
(14) PPF & Savings certificates involve more time. They should not be brought under multipurpose Savings Bank Counters. Separate counters must be there. No other work other than Savings Bank should be added in the Multi purpose Savings Bank Counters.
(15) Postmasters posted in the project arrow offices must be given with systems training so that they can trouble shoot the minor cases if it warrants avoiding dislocation.
(16) There is no security or no queue facilities in Project Arrow phase I & II offices. It resulted in unwarranted arguments to decide who the first customer is. There is no safety.
(17) The enhancement of counter working hours without realizing the difficulties to 7 hours in many places forced the PO to keep open the office beyond working hours. The physical strain of sitting continuously for 7 hours before counter in computer has not been taken note of. This inhuman decision frustrated the employees much.
(18)Entrusting the undelivered articles to PRI (P), directing the Postman to deliver even registered letter to neighbour or any one, compelling the postmen to obtain mobile number of addresses, collecting authorization letters etc, issuing chare sheets without studying the realities are resulted in setback. Mere policing will not yield desired results. Better counseling is the requirement of the day.
(19) Frequent statements, compelling the Postmaster to check e-mails 3 to 4 times, furnishing report once in a hour – All these adversely affected his supervisory’ duties and the time is being wasted only in collecting such information and forwarding them.
(20) Non updating the soft wares. The patches for Foreign Post revised rates not dispatched till today. In Delhi, no MPCM is having the facility of booking of VP articles under concessional rates for printed books.
(21) The e-mo software is now over leaded. Many paid e-mos are now shown as unpaid. The System Administrators are compelled to clear the mistakes. Before introducing the software, the capacity must be assessed properly.
(22) If LAN/WAN/Broad Band does not function, the PMs are compelled to go other offices to send reports, Accounts & MIS etc.
(23) No doubt, it is feel good outside. But inside, still old furniture etc to delivery staff and other staff. When the project is taken, it should be for all.
(24) Unnecessary calling of explanations from the Postmaster and take notice of their lapses for non extraction of Speed Post net data on account of operation errors.
(25) Practically there is no counting of unaccountable articles. Average and incorrect figures are furnished. This should be deleted from DET.
(26) Series of letters & e-mail received on SB transfer, claims & closures. Scores will be deducted in KPI. This demotivates the staff.
(27) Many local instructions are issued daily confusing the operative staff. Sequential day ending process has been changed twice in many circles.
(28) EMO software again proved as half baked with various bugs which required huge rectification. Soft wares are not able to deal such huge data. 2.5 lakhs e-mos were shown as unpaid which were booked 1 year before.
(29) Handling of plenty of soft wares and multi log in by single user causing tiresome and often failures resulting chain of distress to the PAs and supervisors.
(30) Virtually there is no help from the regional office except questioning; Remote assistance is the best way for trouble shooting.
The problems as well as improvements required in Project Arrow offices were elaborated in details during his oration. He further insisted the advance level training, involving the circle unions in decision makings by the circle heads, the loop holes in marketing like UTI, ICICI prudential, Sale of Gold coins for RML etc. unrealistic targets fixation etc were focused. Our stiff opposition on the tie up with Fedex and provide counter in PO is explained.
In fact under the given time and also the follow up interaction with our General Secretary & Secretary General FNPO by the senior offices for about an hour were properly utilized to ventilate the realities at ground level and the need for review of entire things.
After the meeting, many senior offices have appreciated our views, on many issues and the need to correct them. We thank the Principal, Postal Staff College Sri Sarkar for providing this opportunity to us.