Can any one of an age group of 70 and above remember the governmental presence in the remote villages fifty years back? The answer of this question must be yes but these memories are gradually fading from the mind of the people of that age group of villagers and the present generation must be in dilemma to come to a solution for the answer of this question. Because they feel that this is not a question or query at all as each and every time they feel the presence of the governmental activities in rural areas by different ways and means. Nowadays, it is very common that people see or observe different development activities in the rural areas.
But about sixty years back it was rare as people did not see the development activities which they see or feel now. That time only the presence of 2/3 government organizations were familiar in the rural areas. They were the personnel of postal service, police service and land revenue department. Every body of that time (either man or woman) could recognize the Postman/Runner, Police constable and Tahsildar of revenue department. It was very common phenomena during that time. But with the passage of time and development of technology the services of postal department are fading gradually and it is getting less importance by the authority. People are not dependent on postal service that much which they were in 30 years back. Since nineties of last century the courier services owned by private entrepreneurs have appeared as strong competitors of postal department. Nowadays, it is a rare picture that postman delivers letters, parcels and money orders to the people in rural and urban areas as well.
We know postal service was a part of our culture and traditions. Poet Rabindranath Tagore, Poet Sukanta Bhattacharia and other renowned litterateurs referred services of postal department in their literary works. Moreover, railway also was attached with the postal department as railway was the ways and means of carrying letters, parcels etc. For that reason every mail train had one special postal compartment during that time. The common people called it 'dak gari'. Before nineties the activities of post office were very much visible in railway stations and steamer ghats. That time postal department was very much dependent upon railways and steamers. We would see the runners/ postmen waiting in the stations and ghats with big sack bags full of letters and parcels. They used to hand over those bags to the postal personnel in the Dak gari. Some of them used to sort these letters and parcels in the running train and to deliver to the postal men waiting in different stations. The postal compartment is still visible in the different express train but now people are not much curious to them as the service of the postal department is fading away gradually. Now people are no more dependent on postal department. But notwithstanding, post office and its service were some sort of cultural identity of our rural and urban life style before decade of ninety of 20th century. That time post office was the only way to send letters, parcels, documents etc. And it was very dependable and reliable service. Even postage stamps were also very attractive things. Many persons, especially the youngsters were very fond of stamp collecting hobby during those days. In the world history many renowned persons were stamp collectors. Many of them still are alive. We came to know the queen Elizabeth II is one of the famous stamps collectors in the present world. In the decade of fifties, sixties and seventies stamp collecting is one of the main hobbies of youngsters of our country and other countries as well. Now all these things are fading away with the time.
In those days peoples' mobility was limited and limited number of people would do government and other private jobs out of their ancestral home. So they were dependent upon post office to send money to their families by money orders. It was very common that time. But with the introduction of technology and digitization the scenario is changed now. People are no more dependent on postal service to send money to their families. Same things happen in the case of sending personal letters. The volume of sending personal letters by post office has gone to zero now. Nowadays, it is a rare case that people send personal letters through post office. Now only official letters, documents are being sent by postal service. The private courier service, fax and email are now the ways and means of sending and getting letters, documents etc. And for the introduction of mobile phones people need not write personal letters. So it comes to our notice that the volume of work of post office is gradually decreasing. Delivering letters, parcels and money orders are not the only functions of post office. There are other many functions the postal department performs.
Out of the regular service post office delivers the service of savings bank, saving certificates, postal life insurance and newly introduced electronic money order service. Postal savings bank is of the ancient banking service in our country. Many rural people, especially rural women were the customers of this service. But with the days and bullish appearance of different scheduled banks people are going to forget the service of postal savings bank. Postal savings certificate is still a very popular scheme among the general people of our country. But government decision of reducing interest rate has demoralized the people already but it is good news to the people that government has changed its earlier decision and the interest rate will be as it was in the previous months.
The service of the mobile money order and postal life insurance are the unique service to the common people. But experience shows that people are not that much aware about these two services or schemes. Only limited number of people is aware of these services and in the post offices people used to face many hassles and unfriendly situations. The authority should introduce vigorous program to popularize these schemes. The strong presence of different private life insurance companies, electronic money transfer/order companies like Bikash/Rocket have dashed the postal schemes to the bottom line.
So, time has come to start research and coordinate the work and activities of postal department in a different way and the authority should rethink and make a plan out of the boxes so that the most ancient and traditional department of our country the post office will not be in lag behind long days. Otherwise it will be very difficult for the postal department to be graduated to the level of international standard and people friendly service.
Dr. Syed Nesar Ahmad Rumy, Babar Road, Mohmmadpur, Dhaka.
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