A fresh wind for speed post, fanned by Aadhaar cards
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Nandan Nilekani's Unique Identification (UID) project has got itself an enthusiastic advocate: the Department of Posts. Boxed into a corner by private sector couriers, the department has seen a big jump in its high-margin speed post business, thanks to the UID's Aadhaar cards.
Of over 38 crore speed posts the department delivered in the last fiscal, around 21 per cent (eight crore) involved distribution of Aadhaar cards. Their share rose further to 32 per cent in the first seven months of the current fiscal. Of the 31 crore speed posts the department delivered, around 10 crore involved Aadhaar cards.
"We have seen a huge jump in our speed post deliveries due to a major chunk of business coming from the delivery of Aadhaar cards. There was a time when around 50 per cent of the deliveries made by our postmen were of Aadhaar cards," said Subhashish Sarkar, member (operations), Department of Posts.
Sarkar added that there was some resistance from employees initially, who found their workload suddenly heavier with greater distances to be covered in a day, apart from the onus of ensuring that the Aadhaar card was delivered only in the hands of the person concerned. The department finally worked out a small monetary "incentive" for the employees.
Unlike normal speed posts that are required to be delivered in one to three days, the Unique Identification Authority of India allows Aadhaar cards — which are an exercise in giving each resident of India a unique identification number — to be delivered up to a period of 25 days, but with the condition of handing it over only to the person in whose name the cards were issued. This also helps to physically verify the address provided in the cards.
The Department of Posts is hopeful of getting an order to deliver 40 crore more Aadhaar cards in the next few days, as the second phase of delivery of Aadhaar cards begins.