ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The New Indian Postal Bill: Issues and Way Forward

With the Department of Posts facing competition in its traditional monopoly market from private players, the provisions of a new postal bill, which is in the process of being drafted, can have a major impact on postal, courier and express delivery sectors. The bill is expected to define the universal service obligation in the Indian context, and will presumably discuss what privilege or special treatment the national post office will get for fulfilling the USO.

Rapid improvements in telecommunication technology in the last few decades have revolutionised the modern economy. Most sectors have gained from the massive increase in speed and coverage of telecommunications. However, the traditional postal mail is facing serious challenges. A rapid spread of technology, particularly internet and email, is threatening the future of postal mail and post offices across the world. To make matters more complex, national postal service providers are also facing competition in their traditional monopoly markets from new private players.

The entry of the private players in the postal market is an outcome of shifting consumption and business patterns at the level of corporations, households and smalland medium-sized businesses.1 These shifts have led to refinement and product segmentation of the market with corresponding pricing policies and service performance. But at the same time, most national postal organisations still face a universal service obligation (USO). A USO is the obligation of an operator to supply a specific package of goods and services, of a determined quality, to all users at “affordable” rates. In postal services, the USO essentially means ensuring physical accessibility and affordability of basic postal services for the general population, even if it is non-profitable.

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