It may not ring a bell for a generation fed on emails and SMSes, but those who grew up sending and receiving letters and greetings will take note: paper stamps will be replaced by an electronic version in another two years.
Licking and sticking will be a thing of the past with India Post deciding to use e-stamps for all its commercial services, including post cards, inland letters and registered post across the country, 156 years after British East India Company introduced the country’s first stamp featuring Queen Victoria.
“The electronic form of postal stamps will fully substitute paper stamps in two years,” said an official with the ministry of communications and Information Technology. India Post currently has electronic stamping facility in select urban postal circles.
The postal department is working with USbased consulting firm Accenture to prepare a detailed modernisation plan that includes shifting to the e-stamp system, which is already in place in several developed countries. India Post, employing 5 lakh people in more than 1.5 lakh post offices, is the largest postal service in the world.
Benefits of e-stamps The move will help save printing costs and also help the department tackle the menace of forged paper stamps, which is rampant in several states, the official said, requesting anonymity.
“There have been cases of revenue leaks due to postal stamps being forged in some parts of the country,” said the official, without getting into details.
The department sold stamps worth Rs 606 crore in 2008-09 . It reported a loss of Rs 3,638 crore in 2008-09 after posting a 34% jump in expenditure to Rs 9,500 crore. Revenues grew only 6.6% to Rs 5,862 crore during the period. Its accumulated losses stand at Rs 7,640 crore.
Some premium segment products such as Speed Post are already using bar coded stamps and several large cities have computerised post offices. But most parts of the country, including rural and semi-urban areas , use paper stamps.
The postal department, established in the 19th century as India Post Office by the British East India Company , is one of the oldest government departments in the country. The tradition of postage stamps started in 1852 when the British introduced the Scinde Dawk stamps. These stamps, embossed on red wax wafer, were the first in Asian countries. By around 1872, the British military started using stamps extensively to send official mails.
Besides shifting to e-stamps , the postal department has initiated other e-enabled services to survive in a world that is going the digital way, particularly in the communications space. Its e-post service, for instance, allows sending of messages through email to be printed at post offices near to the address.
Source: The Economic Times