Ms Anjali Devasher
Member (Postal Life Insurance)
Postal Services Board,
Dak Bhawan, Sansad Marg
NO : AU/A-3/PLI-RPLI Dated at Kolkata -12, the 19-08-2013.
Sub: Appeal for conversion of Circle Administrative offices as Central Processing Centres.
Ref : Letters of even no. dated 08-07-2013 & 22-07-2013.
This has the reference to our discussion relating to the matter mentioned above in your chamber on 02-08-2013, just after the discussion held in the committee room on 02-08-2013. Many many thanks and gratitude to you for your hospitality and giving us a patient hearing.
We have tried our best to make you aware of the facts. As per our discussion, we are giving a detailed note for favour of your kind perusal.
The idea of decentralization of PLI/RPLI work came into picture on 01-06-2003 under CGM DO. Letter no. 29-12/2001-LI Dated 09-05-2003 wef 01-06-2003 wherein it was ordered that PLI & RPLI work relating to marketing, processing of PLI proposal, issue of acceptance letter and despatch of Policy documents,, premium receipt book would be decentralized from Circle & Regional offices leaving after sales services intact for the Circle/Regional offices.
Subsequently, the same decentralization order was rolled back under Directorate’s another order no. 29-12(2001-LI)(VOL-II) Dated 02-05-2005 with the opinion that, “The Scheme of decentralization did not yield the desired results even after two years of its implementation, mainly because we could not make provision for man power and hardware for the Postal Divisions”.
In the year 2006, the same was ordered again to be implemented in the name of providing better services to the customers and reducing the pendency.
Thereafter some other orders came into picture and accordingly decentralization process of PLI/RPLI work gathered momentum in different Circles in a scattered manner.
On 14-03-2008, PLI Directorate in a meeting reflected their intention stating that, “Decentralization of Operational procedure, Administrative/Financial power and Modernization is the world wide phenomenon for reaching nearer to the customers for better after sales service”. In this connection NDC (National Data Centre) was formed and on 28-08-2009 Department expressed their views that, “Department wants to provide on line facilities to customers like other insurers”.
In this context, it is relevant to mention that the Unions and Postal JCA always opposed such idea of decentralization and other courses of actions without building the required infrastructures at the vast grass route level. Ultimately, such unilateral actions led to staff resentment in different Circles culminated into the call of Nationwide indefinite strike wef 13-07-2010 by NFPE & FNPO wherein in the charter of demands, “Role back of the decentralization of PLI/RPLI work and augmentation of staff by filling up of vacant posts” was one of the major demands of Postal JCA.
Department in a call attention letter addressed to all the Chief PMGs commented that, “with excellent business in PLI/RPLI, the insurants are to be serviced properly. For this purpose, it is important that Service Centre is near to their residence location. Hence, settlement of claim needs to be decentralized and this should be settled at the Divisional level”. But this item remained unsettled.
Consequent upon that unsettlement, in the wake of another Postal Strike call wef. 05-07-2011, the issue of decentralization was again incorporated in the charter of demands. As a result, the issue was discussed in the meeting of 01-07-2011 with the then CGM(PLI) where Postal JCA vehemently opposed the idea of decentralization but to our utter surprise, it was noticed that a DO. Letter bearing no. 25-1/2011-II Dated 06-07-2011 signed by CGM(PLI) ordered for decentralization of the works of maturity claims upto Rs 5 lakhs, sanctioning of Loans and revival of the policies to the Divisions, even before the minutes of the meeting of 01-07-2011 was circulated (on 14-07-2011). The minutes of the meeting dated 01-07-2011, however did not reflect our views. We strongly objected against the distorted version of the minutes. Honestly to say, no iota of information regarding the decentralization of even PLI/RPLI “after sales” works were even hinted in the said meeting of 01-07-2011.
Inspite of the strong opposition of the Postal JCA, the Department decided to go ahead with this item of agenda of decentralization. Although, some orders were issued that the officials of PLI branch should not be diverted to any branch of the CO/RO, rather they should be assigned with other productive jobs. When another call of strike was given by the Postal JCA wef. 17-01-2012, decentralization of PLI/RPLI again became the item of agenda in the charter of demands.
As a result, Postal Services Board, under the Chairmanship of Secretary (Posts) held a meeting with the Postal Joint Council of action on 10-01-2012 & 12-01-2012 and in the minutes of the meeting against this item, it was agreed that, “the request of Staff side to permit the Circle/Regional office branch of PLI to accept, process & service the policies relating to their Head Quarter cities where they were located was accepted to”. Even the meeting of 21-05-2012 and in the meeting of the Departmental council dated 28-12-2012 taken by the Secretary (Posts), Dte. upheld the same view which was circulated on 27-01-2012 and again on 28-06-2012 by issuing orders by PLI Directorate.
Thus, the problem of decentralization of PLI from COs & ROs was solved partially and grievances thereof, was neutralized to some an extent by the agreed decision of the Postal Directorate “to permit the Circle/Regional offices branch of PLI to accept, process & service the policies relating to Head Quarter cities where they were located was accepted to”.
When the problem of decentralization of PLI works seemed to have been solved and the ball started rolling on the track, a DO letter issued in the month of February-2013 by the Chief General Manager, PLI Directorate addressing all Chief PMGs by name in the name of India Post-Project-2012 changed the whole scenario. In the said DO letter it was communicated that 8 Head Post offices in 7 Circles , i.e, Rajasthan, Delhi, Assam, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh would be brought under the Pilot Project. It has also been hinted that the rest of the Circles would be rolled out in early part of 2014 as part of phase-II. It was also mentioned that case files of PLI & RPLI should be segregated Head Post office wise (PAO wise) and those HPO would be called as Central Processing Centres. Subsequently, DO letters of CGM(PLI) dated 26-06-2013 and 08-07-2013 added further momentum.
Incidentally, it is relevant to mention that this issue was neither discussed in the meeting of “National Postal Policy-2012” on 01-01-2012 nor even in the meeting of India Post IT Modernization Project-2012 or recorded any where-in no other meeting or discussion of any forum. Decentralization of PLI works to the Head offices instead of Divisions, was discussed and the whole exercise was done, keeping the staff side and Postal JCA in the dark and even violating the latest provision of “Post Office Life Insurance Rules-2011” wherein the divisions are empowered along with COs & ROs to deal with the PLI/RPLI matters. What is more surprising and doubtful that our independent dealing with the PLI/RPLI matters are being done by the Infosys and this reveals our apprehension communicated through NFPE letter no. NFPE/NPP2012/GENL/2012 Dated 01-10-2012 that the National Postal Policy is inclined to give “maximum patronage to the private sector”. We do apprehend that this will cause leakage and transfer of our insurants data and business secrecy to the private company like Infosys.
PLI Directorate explained two objectives for decentralization of PLI/RPLI claims, acceptance of proposals and servicing.
(1) “Decentralization of operational procedure, Administrative, Financial Powers and Modernization, is the worldwide phenomenon for reaching nearer to the customers for providing after sales service”.
(2) “With excellent business in PLI/RPLI, the insurants are to be serviced properly. For this purpose, it is important that the service centres are near to their residence location.
This arguments as it appears to us, may not be a valid ones and not relevant due to the following reasons.
Socio – Economic Structure of India & its comparison in the Light of International Perspectives
Decentralization in the light of worldwide perspective like population, density of population, urban population as percentage to total population and Human Development Index and Quality of Life comparison, can clearly indicate that India should have its own independent principles. When USA, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan & Australia are having urban population varing between 67% to 89.1%, India is having just 30.1% urban population and 69.9% people are living in rural areas, within the ambit of 640867 villages. Bad condition of roads and poor connectivity with towns and worsening conditions of villages, are the major constraints for development.
Many State Capital cities of India like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Patna, Bhubaneshwar, Gandhinagar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Lucknow, Jaipur etc, are gleaming with flood lights and high rise & palatial mansions, but just a few miles away, the back roads of those cities, are filled with pot holes and even short distances can take hours by car. Women labor on the roads breaking stones by hand. The landscape is dotted with lone man ploughing the dusty fields with oxen. At roadside stalls, shopkeepers sell biscuits and tea. This is the most typical scene in India, where much of the population is still illiterate and fighting for survival.
INDIA’S POSTAL NETWORK
Out of 1,54,822 Post offices throughout the country, number of Departmental Post offices is 25,444 and that of Extra Departmental Post office is 1,29,378. Another point is most important that, the number of urban Post offices is only 15,736 (10.16%) and that of Rural Post offices is 1,39,086 (89.84%). Although, so many steps are being taken like installation of modern gadgets to improve Public Service Delivery in the Rural Post offices yet it would take a long time to achieve the objectives. Morecver, some other striking points are there
(a) On an average 7,817 people are served by a Post office; 5,990 people in Rural and 23964 people in Urban areas.
(b) Total number of villages in India as per Census of India 2010, is 6,40,867 & that of towns is 7,935 (Source: Book of Information 2010-2011)
Taking Towns and Villages in India, We require to serve 6,48,802 places, whereas we are having only 1,54,822 Post offices & we are still to fulfill our Postal Network in the vast areas of 4,93,980 places.
Considering our socio-economic structure and prevailing Postal Network, it may take many decades “for reaching nearer to the customers” and our dedicated objective “to provide service centre near to their residence location”, is a utopian dream. So, the consultancy or personnels under whose advice we have been moving with the idea of “Decentralization of PLI/RPLI” may throw our PLI/RPLI business in great danger.
Comparison With Life Insurance Corporation of India.
On occasions, it is said, that we are following LICI Model. LICI is having 2,048 number of branches, 3,500 Service Centres, 8 Zonal offices, 113 Divisional offices, 54 Customer Zones, 25 number of Metro Area Service Hubs, Agency force of 12,78,000, 242 Corporate Agents & 1.2 lakh work force to deal with 30 crore Insurance policies.
Life Insurance Corporation of India (LICI) is doing only Insurance business, whereas Department of Posts is doing Mail business, Business Development and Marketing, E Post, Speed Post, Media Post, EPP, Logistic Post, Various SB & SC work, IMO, Retailing, Mutual funds, MGNREGS, Postage stamps, other Postal Services in subsidized rates to the people of INDIA and Insurance business of 2 Crores of policies, out of which 1.5 Crore RPLI policies & 50 lakh PLI policies. LICI with its core group staff of 1.2 lakh are serving exclusively for 30 Crore LIC policies, whereas, in the Department of Posts, with only 1200 (approx) core group of work force, PLI & RPLI policies were being serviced until recently. Taking LICI comparison into account, we should have a core group of work force of at least 8000 personnels exclusively engaged for PLI/RPLI policies and 85000 Agency force in our Department of Posts against 2 crore of policies. When LIC is opened to all Sections of people, PLI is confined to Govt. Sectors Policy and its PSUs. Rural Postal Services (RPLI) was introduced in 1995 by DOP and not a single man power has been provided till now. Moreover, frequent change in the decisions by the PLI Dte. like decentralization, then centralization and thereafter again decentralization to Divisions and then Shift into Head POs have damaged the steady growth of our Insurance business.
Circle & Regional offices have been running with huge shortage of staff and new recruitment for the Circle administrative offices (COs/ROs) are still pending with the DOPT although the advertisement for filling up of Posts for PAs/SAs has long been done and even, examination has also been completed long ago.
Thus, in spite of all such constraints, it has clearly been established that Circle & Regional office staff including DPLI office, Kolkata have exerted their best efforts for steady growth of PLI/RPLI business since 1954. From 1.29 lakh policies in 1954 – 55, we have now reached to 2 crores of policies in 2011-12 and an amount of Rs 21000 Crores we have earned in r/o PLI/RPLI and received from Ministry of Finance as net corpus in November-2009 for investment in Govt. Securities.
These facts, as explained above are indicative of the immense contribution made by COs/ROs and DPLI office, Kolkata in the fields of PLI/RPLI for nearly six decades. But from the recent developments through the DO letters of CGM(PLI) it appears to us, that we are being kicked out of the main stream of PLI/RPLI business in spite of our years long dedicated service through our sustained efforts. This is very painful for us, as it reminds us of a rare Indian family where children kick out their parents after being brought up and firmly established in the society.
Moreover, from economic point of view centralization of PLI works to the Circle & Regional offices will definitely be less expensive and will render much and much complications-free after sales services to the Insurants.
Madam, these are points of argument in a nutshell. In the light of our detailed arguments with presentation of facts, we are of strong view that all the 22 COs & 37 ROs as well as the DPLI office, Kolkata, totalling 60 more offices, at least need to be converted as “CENTRAL PROCESSING CENTRES” for steady growth of PLI business, utilizing this stable infrastructure and skilled work force with expertise knowledge alongwith other HOs. We do believe, that the software can definitely act according to the desire of their masters and hence we propose that all the CO & RO branches of PLI throughout the country should be fully empowered to accept process & service all the PLI policies relating to their Head Quarter cities where they are located and consequent upon that all the PLI works which are being done and proposed to be done by the Divisions/HOs located in the respective Head Quarter City jurisdictions of COs & ROs, should immediately be transferred to COs & ROs.
Therefore, we make an earnest appeal to you to re-consider the decision in that light and the agreement that was reached in the meeting of 10-01-2012 & 12-01-2012 “allowing the CO & RO branches of PLI to accept, process and service all the PLI policies relating to their Head Quarter Cities where they are located”, is also amicably honoured.
We are eagerly waiting for a positive decision in this regard and waiting to meet you while visiting Kolkata at your convenient time.
With respectful regards,