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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ms. Devika Kumar, Chief PMG, Odisha Circle retired

The  members of AIPEU, Group-C, Bhubaneswar Division wish her a healthy and peaceful retired life.

Pension fund regulator makes the right move

The pension fund regulator has done well to raise the commission for distributors of the National Pension System (NPS). A higher return for the banks and financial institutions that open NPS accounts for subscribers will motivate them to market the scheme better.
From January 16, distributors are charging Rs 100 to open an account and 0.25% of the amount contributed initially by the subscriber, subject to a minimum of Rs 20 and a maximum of Rs 25,000. A subscriber is also being charged 0.25% for every transaction. PoPs can negotiate these charges with subscribers, but that is going to be cumbersome. Also, the amount is meagre at the lower end.
Yet, the new ad valorem commission structure will induce distributors to market the NPS. Bolder reforms are needed to incentivise fund managers and popularise the NPS, which has the institutional framework to generate superior returns on old-age savings.
The government must make better use of its pension subsidy: instead of augmenting every voluntary subscription below Rs 12,000 by Rs 1,000, the government should use its money to underwrite initial overhead costs in asset management, distribution and record-keeping. The wafer-thin asset management charge of 0.0009% should be supplemented with a grant till sufficient scale is achieved.
Similarly, money should be provided from the Budget to meet central record-keeping costs. The regulator should drop its plan to allow fund managers to negotiate fees with subscribers. Fund managers manage a pool of savings and cannot be expected to negotiate charges with individual subscribers.
In any case, why create incentives for differential levels of asset management focus? It makes sense to limit the number of fund managers in the initial stage, so as to generate viable scale for each fund manager.
The simplest way to remove the need for any subsidy for the NPS is, of course, to amend the Employees Provident Fund Act to allow workers to voluntarily migrate to the NPS. That would swell NPS numbers, increase the pool of funds to be managed and grant fund managers greater flexibility in diversifying their portfolios across asset classes to minimise risk.
Source : The Economic Times, January 31, 2012

Online Feedback on the Draft National Postal Policy open up to 01st February, 2012

To post comment, please click here

Farewell to retired employees of Sahidnagar MDG

All-India Consumer Price Index Numbers for Industrial Workers on Base 2001=100 for the Month of December 2011

All India Consumer Price Index Number for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) on base 2001=100 for the month of December, 2011 decreased by 2 points and stood at 197 (one hundred & ninety seven) .
                                During December, 2011, the index recorded maximum decrease of 8 points each in Ghaziabad and Jamshedpur centres, 7 points each in Mysore, Bokaro and Ranchi Hatia centres, 6 points  in 3 centres, 5 points in 3 centres, 4 points in 6 centres, 3 points in 11 centres, 2 points in 18 centres and 1 point in 17 centres. The index increased by 6 points in Coonoor centre, 4 points in Chennai centre, 3 points in Mercara centre, 2 points in 3 centres and 1 point in 2 centres, while in the remaining 7 centres the index remained stationary.
                              The maximum decrease of 8 points in Ghaziabad and Jamshedpur centres is mainly on account of decrease in the prices of Onion, Vegetable & Fruit items, Primary and Middle  School Fee and Books, etc. The decrease of 7 points in Mysore, Bokaro and Ranchi Hatia centres is mainly due to decrease in the prices of Rice Wheat, Onion, Vegetable & Fruit items, Primary and Middle School Fee and Books, Petrol, etc. The increase of 6 points in Coonoor centre is mainly due to increase in the prices of Rice, Maida, Suji, Dairy Milk, Milk (Cow), Tamarind, Tea (Readymade), Sugar, Sweater, Medicine (Allopathic), Medicine (Homeopathic), Bus Fare, Barber Charges, etc. The increase of 4 points in Chennai centre is due to increase in the prices of Dairy Milk, Tea (Readymade), Cigarette, E.S.I. Contribution, Bus Fare, Flower/Flower Garlands, etc.
                           The indices in respect of the six major centres are as follows :
1. Ahmedabad

4. Delhi
2. Bangalore

5. Kolkata
3. Chennai

6. Mumbai

                 The point to point rate of inflation based on CPI-IW(General) for the month of December, 2011 is 6.49% as compared to 9.34% in November, 2011. Inflation based on Food Index dipped to the level of 1.97% in December, 2011 as compared to 7.61% in November, 2011.
                 The CPI-IW for January, 2012 will be released on the last working day of the next month, i.e. 29th February, 2012.
Source : PIB Release, January 31, 2012

How postal services try to have stamp of modernity

Countering challenges: The postal department is undergoing a revamp, in keeping with the changing times. Photo: S.S. Kumar
Senior citizens are lifeline of the department; virtual post offices or e-post offices are the future which will attract youngsters
His relationship with the post office started when he was barely 10. S. Sampath, a septuagenarian, continues to correspond through what many people call the “snail mail service” despite all odds and dissuasion from his family.
For over 60 years, Mr. Sampath has seen the service attain enviable heights of repute, success and efficiency, and then rapidly lose its traditional relevance in the face of modern technology. His son often teases him for posting cards, but nothing stops the septuagenarian from using the Department's services.
“There is no one to pass on my stamp collection in my family. I have stopped writing long letters to my relatives in the village,” said the retired teacher from Kalaivanar Colony, Anna Nagar West.
With the digital world expanding by the day, the idea of a simple hand-written letter seems to be on its way into history. The virtual extinction of hand-written letters is also impacting sale of inland letters and post cards. Individual mails have shrunk to less than 20 per cent of the Postal Department's deliveries.
Bhanurekha Sundar, a resident of Ashok Nagar, said: “When I was young, I used to post 20 to 30 greeting cards. Now, I send and receive greetings through text messages and e-mails. I miss the excitement. I realise that none of us has much time anymore for such niceties.”
Today, if you see customers walking into a post office, they are most likely to despatch something by speed post, to remit bills, send parcels or use its banking services. Launch of more parcel packaging centres and success of retail services and savings schemes, however, are signs of possible demand for its newer services.
Shrinking numbers
Corporates and government departments keep its services going, but the Postal Department is clearly losing its individual customers. A postmaster who did not want to be named said: “The number of individual customers has reduced to 50 per cent compared to two decades ago. There were days when sub-post offices dealt with 10,000 individual mails daily.”
Mergers have brought down the number of post offices as well. Currently there are only around 200 post offices in Chennai and its suburbs and nearly 75 per cent of these are in rented buildings that are under threat of either being moved or closed down.
Sources in the All India Postal Employees Union said that of the 273 post offices in the city only 170 are presently functioning. Many one-man post offices had to be closed as the revenue generated was low.
Officials said the department was on the look out for rented accommodation at affordable rates for post offices. “We have been asking the Chennai Corporation for space. But they are yet to give us concrete replies. Private persons are not willing to rent buildings to us.”
Exploring new avenues
To cope with the mounting expenditure and the heavy subsidising of its primary services, the postal department is morphing into a multi-service provider. The annual growth rate varied between 10 to 15 per cent. The total monthly revenue generated by Chennai city is around Rs.6 crore of which Speed Post alone contributes Rs.2.40 crore. There are also customers who give business worth Rs.25 lakh per month.
“We are taking steps to make post offices more customer friendly by improving the quality of services in areas, including Adyar, Tambaram and T. Nagar. We have authorised 25 franchisees that do all our operations excluding banking and insurance,” said an official.
However, computerisation has not spread to all post offices. “Though a portion of the 2,500 employees in Chennai still find it difficult to adapt to technology, the department also has not been able to implement computerisation universally, which leads to delay in processing time,” admitted a postal official.
‘Sell stamp paper'
J. Srivenkatesh, State president, All India Postal Employees Union, said there was no separate cadre for system operations support. “If there is a problem in the system, nobody knows how to set it right,” he said.
Questioning the rationale behind closing post offices and offering more retail products to customers, he said that in the last two years around 60 post offices have been closed in Chennai. “We have been suggesting that post offices sell stamp paper… we sell revenue stamps anyway. It would be a profit spinning enterprise,” he said.
The Union has been campaigning for removing the system of hubs in Speed Post services as it would only lead to slowing down of deliveries.
“We ensure that 95 per cent Speed Post is delivered on time. Sometimes there is a delay due to non-availability of the person or address being unclear. Parcel services too are very popular with customers. T. Nagar and Mylapore post offices do business up to Rs.1 crore a month at times,” said Postmaster General (Chennai City Region) M.S. Ramanujan.
Shanthi Srinivasan, marketing executive, said proof of address cards, sale of gold coins and parcel services were top of the retail services. “We have good response from customers for services including sale of application forms for universities, HMT watches and solar lamps.”
The expansion of services has led to an increase in work load. A postal assistant who joined recently said: “We work for nearly 12 hours to beat the competition from courier companies. We collect bulk letters from corporate clients. We also have to canvass customers to purchase our retail products.”
Admitting that the senior citizens are the lifeline of the department, the official said virtual post offices or e-post offices are the future of the department to attract youngsters to use the services.
What they say
M.S.Ramanujan, Postmaster General, Chennai City Region
We are repositioning and re-engineering ourselves to be relevant to the changing needs of the customers. The launch of retail services and parcel packaging centres and strengthening of banking services are the recent moves to stay in touch with customers. We are focussing on relocation of post offices instead of closure. There are also plans for a massive technological upgradation in the next two years.
Elizabeth Sam, homemaker from Madipakkam
The habit of writing letters had many incentives. We had pen friends across the world, and more than the letter, we valued the stamps. Collecting stamps and knowing about them has helped me to de-stress myself throughout the 50 years that I have been collecting them. I like collecting thematic stamps, mainly on flora and fauna, and now, I collect a lot of Sri Lankan stamps. My sustained interest in stamps has not only helped me as a teacher, but also ensured that I had interesting things to do, even after retirement.
G. Kaliasundaram, Investor, post office scheme
Being a senior citizen, I find the services of the postal agents very satisfactory. Even at odd hours in the day, we can call them up and speak. We invest in the postal scheme because it is convenient for us, and we do not have to go to the office personally for every need. However, if their business is affected, it will in turn affect us.
Source : The Hindu, January 30, 2012

Prompt conduct of periodical meetings - Member (P) writes to all heads of circles

Wish the staff members retiring today a happy and peaceful retired life

Dear Comrades,
The following Postal Assistants are retiring today on attaining the age of superannuation.
 Sl. No.
Name of the official
Date of Birth
Date of Retirement
Babaji Jena
PA, Sahid Nagar MDG
Rama Ch. Muduli
SPM, D.B.Chhak SO
Prafulla Ch. Satapathy
SPM, Bamanal SO
The AIPEU, Group-C, Bhubaneswar Division wishes all a healthy and peaceful retired life.

The Oldest Letterbox in Odisha (India?)

Report by bureau; Bhubaneswar: (January 28, 2012)
When was the last time you posted a letter or send a postcard? In today’s world it is all electronic and instant, but one can’t forget the excitement of sending and receiving mail, be it a birthday card or a letter from an overseas friend.
An early British era letter box in a small village on Odisha. It was a chance discovery made by me. The wall mounted Letter Box was painted in the traditional post office red, but what is unique is the British  Royal emblem on it.
The Post Office at Kaipada is midway between Kendrapara and Jajpur. The  post office was of British era, the building had had been constructed way back in 1901. The post office dominates the village of Kaipada even today as it has been for over a hundred and ten  years. It still retains classical and traditional elegance.The Post Office is tucked some twenty metres away from the main road, in a thicket of tall trees. It stands on a two acre compound - the land has been Postal property since yore.
                I cannot give an exact date when the letter box was  affixed to the wall,  but it is must be  between 1901  and 1905. This might not be the oldest letter box in India, but I am certain it is the oldest in Odisha., and certainly one of the oldest that is still in use. These wall mounted letter boxes first appeared in 1857 in England.  The earliest known use in India is in 1885, I guess this must have been one of the early examples. All mailboxes shipped out of England bore the royal badge. Whenever there was a change of regime, so was the badge. No wonder, mailboxes bearing royal badge of different regimes on the sides can be found even today in the streets of England. The front of the letter box usually has the  royal cipher, “V.R”, “E.R” or “G.R”   denoting  Queen Victoria, King Edward or King George.  In present day Britain, the Letter Boxes are all  inscribed with the Royal Badge of the present Queen Elizabeth 2nd.
                The Kaipada Letter Box must have started off as a Victorian one, and seen the transaction to the Edwardian and then the Georgian ciphers.I had sent the photographs and details of the letter box  to a  British philatelist friend  and postal historian who did a lot of ground work. He  tells me that this type of boxes were  made by the London firm of W.T. Allen and Co. , who manufactured and shipped  letter boxes for the Post Office between 1881 and 1963. Many of them are still found in villages of England.
                The letter box stood in one corner, a silent sentinel who has seen the world go by. The road from Kendrapara to Jajpur has so much of history attached to it. In short, so much had changed in the century of the Letter Box’s existence, but that morning, while I was photographing it from various angles and hearing the tales of the villagers, it seemed I was back in time. Nothing had changed- nothing. The letter box was still emptied twice daily; letters were still posted in it. The mail run was the same that has been for years.
In 1934, Gandhiji began his celebrated Padayatra with the mission of Harijan uplift and abolition of untouchability. In was on the 31st May 1934, while on his way from   Kendrapara to Bari that the Mahatma stopped at Kaipada. He had rested under a big Banyan tree near the Post Office. Narayan Chandra Panda, the octogenarian retired post master told me of the eventful day. He was young lad, just ten years old and had seen the Mahatma. The villagers had all gathered under the tree and Gandhiji had curiously enquired about the Post Office building which stood by the side of the Road. One of the villagers had run to get the Post Master’s chair, but the Mahatma had refused  to sit on it and had sat down under the tree, spending a good one hour. Two other villagers in the nineties, Dadichi Sahoo and Gouranga Dhall, both told me of the day they had walked with Gandhiji till Bari.
The seeds of the freedom movement were sowed in the minds of all the people of the area after Gandhiji visit. He had advised Congressmen all over the country to take up rural reconstruction. At the end of his Padayatra in Orissa, at Bhadrak, he advised Congress workers to go back to villages. Many took up the cause. The Quit India Movement in 1942  was the expression of India's last push towards its "tryst with destiny."  Jajpur and Kendrapara were the hotbed of all revolutionary activities. The Government of Odisha had declared all Congress bodies unlawful and arrested many of the leaders. There was a huge public uprising and people took possession of government offices and burnt them down.
The Sub Post Office of Kaipada, with its old Letter Box, too played a very significant part in the revolt. The then Postmaster, Gobind Chandra Das got wind of the coming action and  on the 20th August he packed up all the postal stamps, cash, seals  and other important fiscal items and along with a runner took off for Kendrapara where he deposited the items at the main Post office there. He left the Post Office to his assistant, Narayan Chandra Panda, and warned him of the impending threat.
Popular history says that on the 22nd August 1942, the Post Office of Kaipada was burnt down, it was the only symbol of the British Raj in the vicinity, and the freedom fighters vent their ire on this vestige of oppression. A crowd of 200 surrounded the Post Office and set it on fire, as it was a pucca building, only the papers and furniture was destroyed. The armed Police soon arrived but was prevented to enter the village. They later on came in six boats and managed to arrest ten persons. The handcuffed prisoners were being taken to Jajpur, when a mob of a thousand persons attacked the police. The police opened fire killing four and injuring a dozen . The four who fell down by the pond in Kalamatia   were   Sanada Swain and Hadibandhu Panda of Krushnanagar village, Sauti Mallick of Srirampur  and Mayadhar Bhuyan of Hatasahi . Some of the people told me that even an airplane had dropped tear gas shells on the crowd, but I still have to ascertain the veracity of this fact. There is a small martyr’s memorial for the dead in the nearby village.
However, Narayan Chandra Panda, who had been charge of the Post office on the fateful day, told me a very different story. I spent a good hour with the old postmaster, the sad and rheumy eyed man recollected what all has happened. According to him, the Post Office was not actually set on fire completely, only a few papers were taken to the Verandah, (where incidentally the old Letter Box has been all these years) and burnt. Even the furniture was spared, and I think the tables, almirah and chairs are still being used.
Panda told me that he has appealed to the crowd that burning the post office would be of no use and the government would not build another one. It would be the village’s loss. He even told the crowd that the postmaster had taken away all the stamps, cash and seals.  He remembers taking down the portrait of  King George VI  from above the Postmaster’s Chair(he showed me the nail from  where the portrait had been hung, it was still in place!). He had given  the  crowd many of the postal forms and stationery. All these were taken to the verandah and a bonfire was made where King Emperor’s portrait was burnt. He says that earlier in the morning he had taken whatever little was left of the records and put in the secret underground safe of the Post Office. Surprisingly the present Post master did not know anything of the safe, and a steel almirah had to be moved for me to see it. The safe had no longer been in use since decades, it was a small underground cavity with a heavy steel cover. The lid was jammed and it took a good bit of pulling before we could open it.
              It is about time that  India Post took stock of the fact and does what ever it can for this important heritage of Indian history. My British friend warned me that if news of the Letter Box travelled, it should be properly protected; these period letter boxes command a very good price in the antique market.