As Pitaji and Gauri get ready to go to the farm and school, respectively, Ganga checks her Digital Dashboard, which she has set up to get event notifications for Mataji from the Lijjat Pappad website. The real-time event updates have made Mataji a just-in-time producer. Ganga quickly checks Bawarchi.com for the new recipes after all, this is the festive season, and Gautam is coming home tomorrow. She wants to make something special and surprise him. She bookmarks an especially interesting recipe, and decides that she will take a printout when she visits the Post Office in the evening after school.
During the day, Pitaji stops by the Post Office. He continues to be fascinated with how the Post Office had evolved over the past year after it launched Operation Outreach. From just delivering letters and money orders, and holding his savings account, the Post Office had grown into an integral part of his and his family’s lives.
There had been a lot of skepticism when computers were first introduced by the Post Office; there were also fears of retrenchment. Now, a year later, the skeptics had been proven wrong on both counts. All the Post Office staff had been retrained and they now also functioned as computer attendants helping less computer-literate people like Pitaji to do their work. The government had led the way by setting up many of its citizen-centric services for access via the Internet in the past year, as it saw the infrastructure being set up by India Post. The ecosystem grew as more and more service providers added their services using the Web Services e-Business platform offered by India Post. All in all, Pitaji could not help thinking that he had seen more change in the past year than in the many decades since Independence.
With the help of Ramji from the Post Office staff, Pitaji pays the electricity bill using his smart card at one of the terminals, and picks up a printout of the receipt. He also books his train ticket online for a visit to the city for the AgriExpo next week. The ticket will be delivered to him by the post office within three business days. Pitaji marvels at how well this hybrid ecommerce system works. He remembers watching a programme on TV the other day which talked about how India Post’s computer and communications centres were actually helping increase its core delivery business as new consumers across India came online and used the Internet to order items, and then relied on India Post to deliver these items and collect their payments. India Post had reinvented itself as both an e-business utility and a trusted intermediary for transactions, and had become a model for post offices worldwide.
Pitaji’s attention returns to his computer. He finds a tractor being auctioned at one of the sites and decides to put in a bid. He prints out the bank loan form, scans a copy of his ration card and latest income-tax returns, and then emails the complete application across to the bank. Pitaji also checks his bank statement online and takes a printout. As a security measure, banks only allow access to their accounts from Post Offices and other designated locations. This lets them an additional level of authentication. Seeing an email from India Post about the coming maturity of his deposit, Pitaji accepts their offer to roll it over for an additional six months.
Tomorrow: The Story of Nayapur (continued)