India possesses the largest postal network in the world with 155,000 post offices spread all over the country of which 89 per cent are in the rural sector. Post offices in India play a vital role in the rural areas. They connect these rural areas with the rest of the country and also provide banking facilities in the absence of banks in the rural areas. The modern postal service in India is more than 150 years old.
After independence, the Indian government broadened the vision of the postal system to reach the entire population of the country. Today Indian postal system has a reach that ranges from arid deserts of Rajasthan and Kutch to the icy heights of Laddakh. India has the highest post office in the world in Sikkim at a height of 15,500 feet.
A postman is an important public servant. He works in every nook and corner of the country, whether it is a city a town or a village. The postman has to go from door to door and deliver letters, parcels, money orders and gifts.
The postman’s job is really very difficult. Whether it is a rainy season, summer season or winter, he has to go from house to house and from locality to locality for delivering letters. Even during the night, he goes to deliver the telegrams. As the postmen have to cover many villages and cities, they have to cross the most difficult terrains. The postman has to pass through deserts and forests and other hostile places. Some of the postmen are said to have lost their lives due snake bites or have been killed by tigers and other dangerous animals in the Jungles of rural areas.
A survey in Pune, Maharashtra State, found that each postman covers an area of around 40-45 kms and carries an average weight of 10-15 kgs per day. In metro cities postman, covering about 25 km every day. Slum houses in metro cities generally have no door numbers. It is the locals and shopkeepers who help locate the addressee. These postmen become so good at finding an address that the investigating agencies recently asked them for help during a hoax bomb scare in Mumbai. Postman walks gingerly through lanes ducking the maze of electric wires drooping dangerously at times while negotiating open manhole and garbage piles at regular intervals.
They have their own union to solve their disputes and problems but they facing competition from private courier services. Despite his difficult responsibilities, he gets a very small salary. His pay and allowances are small and holidays at limited. When other people enjoy their holidays, be is busy delivering letters to the people and is overburdened during festivals time.
A postman’s life is hard indeed. One has to acquire special qualities for becoming a postman. A person of good heart and polite manners along could discharge the duties of postman. He always wears a smile on his face. Despite of these agonies, he has a dark and bleak future. There are no chances of promotion in his profession. He spends his whole life in poverty and public service. His profile demands that we should hold him in high esteem and respect him for the burden that he carries on his shoulders.