While smartphones and the Internet may have replaced long-standing ways of communication, an RTI query by The Indian Express with the Department of Posts shows that inland letters and postcards continue to sell reasonably well in post-offices across India.
The reply under the Right to Information Act shows that in 2015, 4.80 crore inland letters were sold at 159 post-offices across the country, a drop but not significantly from 2010’s nearly 6.64 crore. While the number of postcards sold in 2010 stood at 15 crore, in 2015, this had dropped to 13 crore. Meghdoot postcards, which come with a space dedicated to advertisement, also posted impressive sales — around 26 lakh in 2010 and 21 lakh in 2015.
Not surprisingly, the demand for these is higher in smaller villages and towns. While Irinjalakuda in Kerala, for example, saw among the highest number of inland letters sold (5.45 lakh) in 2015, Delhi saw 57,500 being sold, Mumbai 1.27 lakh, Jaipur 2,220 and Kanpur 6,970. The same year, Pune post-offices saw the sale of 4,34,750 inland letters, 5,39,300 postcards and 280 Meghdoot postcards.
Ganesh Sawaleshwarkar, Postmaster General, Pune Region, says, “People keep using postcards and inland letters as they are the cheapest ways of communication. Everyone can afford it. Although 50 paise coins have been demonetised, postcards continue to sell for that. Another reason for their consistent sale is that postage rates are not revised very frequently.”
Interestingly, in some places, the sale of inland letters has risen. In Muzaffarnagar in UP, 12,760 inland letters were sold in 2010 and 69,880 in 2015. At a handful of post-offices though, the annual sale is as low as in single digit. In 2015, two inland letters were sold in Nagpur, 50 in Baramullah, and 69 in Nizamabad.
Among the fans of the postcards is Pune IT professional Pandithar Sivakumar Perumal, who claims to send one daily to the President’s office as a protest crimes against women. “There are two reasons. Firstly, it is affordable. In a year I post 365 postcards…. Second, the reach is wider as these are available pan-India, while the Internet is yet to reach some places.”