Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How To Ensure Good and Efficient Administration in India When Its Postal Service is in Shambles?

Efficient and reliable exchange of documents and an equally efficient and reliable document preservation and retrieval are the backbone of any good administration. If the governments cannot do these properly, there is no doubt that such a government can never do any proper administration.

Developed nations of the west with their high literacy and centuries old evolution of governance have learnt the importance of these and have perhaps adopted some best systems in the world for their postal services that have been carrying out the authentic and official exchange of documents for all walks of life and for all. Similarly, many of them have proper laws for public record keeping and they do follow it properly.

Some time ago I wrote about the importance of good record keeping for ensuring good administration. Equally important is the postal service of any nation which ensures the most reliable and authentic exchange of documents for various purposes. 

India being under the British rule for over a century had got all these good systems and practices as a legacy from its erstwhile rulers. During the initial about three decades, the democratic governments gave due importance to the postal system. Record keeping used to be practiced, though there were no laws and rules for the protection of public records.

However, things changed drastically later. When the intentions of the rulers changed, India witnessed drastic changes in these fundamental things which are essential for good administration. Whether intentionally or not, the Postal Services of India started to deteriorate and became unreliable. The government encouraged private courier services while making the postal services inefficient by neglecting its administration and facilities by using indirect methods. The government stopped services such as the railway mail service (RMS) and many such systems. It also began to curtail the man power and adopted such techniques by which the postal service became too inefficient for any one to rely. 

I remember a case of the early 1980's. I had sent a registered letter with acknowledgement card attached from my residence in a city in central India not having any good public transport system to my village in central Kerala, some 2300 km away. I got the acknowledgement card duly signed by the addressee in less than a week's time. In 2014, with all the modern developments as claimed by India, such a feat is not possible for the postal department or the private couriers.

Now consider the consequences of such a situation. 

The no organization can reliably sent their documents reliably to any party ensuring time of delivery or proof of delivery. Such a situation affect the reliability of commercial and legal transactions. Imagine the plight of a contracting company to deliver the documents in time to the client! Imagine the situation when the authorities have to issue a legal notice to be delivered to the recipient without fail!

The problem of address proof has arisen to such alarming complications due to the ineffective postal system in India. No more the Indian postal system and its government staff are any authority to authenticate any address proof in practice even while the authorities might have included the postal services as one of the agencies for doing it. The Unique Identity exercise of India, named Aadhaar and the issue of the voter ID card by the Election Commission of India all failed miserably due to the inefficiency of the Indian Postal Service as it exists now. 

When more than half of the Indian people are underprivileged and scarcely literate rural folks, electronic communication systems cannot replace any authentic document exchange systems. Indian authorities have high ambitions to spend for all the modern gadgets. But they fail to recognize the ground realities, either intentionally or otherwise.

Administration and governance cannot be efficient without any well defined and statutorily valid communication and document exchange systems. Even online trade cannot prosper without these.

The Indian authorities have knowingly or unknowingly done so many administrative experiments in the past that have caused much complications and also paved ways for higher incidences of corruption.

It is high time that the future democratic leaders give attention to such things if they want their country to prosper and shine as a nation that  is a pride of its present and future generations of citizens.

Else the affluent and privileged can neglect these aspects totally and keep establishing their roots in foreign lands to establish a degraded Indian diaspora in the foreign lands in the future!

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