The importance of postal service will remain unchanged even in the digital age. The journey of Postal Service in exchanging news along the path of history dates back to four and a half thousand years. In this long journey, the world’s oldest institution has gone from ancient Mesopotamia to Babylonian civilisation by showing flame signals, sending messenger pigeons, or from the era of horseback-runner carrying mailbags, or the era of Tore-Tokka technology invented by Samuel Morse. Now the Postal Service has entered the digital technology era in the wake of thousands of years of global evolution. This oldest media of communication has adapted to the times and has survived to this day. With the advent of digital technology, the era of letters has come to an end, but importance for Postal Services will continue in the world of the next fourth industrial revolution.
World Postal Day is being celebrated on 9th October every year at the initiative of Universal Postal Union with the aim of creating public awareness about Postal Services. The International Postal Union was formed on 9 October 1874 in Bern, Switzerland with the participation of representatives from 22 countries. October 9, 1969 was declared as World Postal Day by the organisation to commemorate the formation of the Union. Bangladesh became a member of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 1973 under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Since then, World Postal Day has been celebrated in the country every year.
The Corona epidemic has raised new hopes. The international postal sector can emulate how innovation is protecting people from this epidemic. From that point of view, this year’s proposal has become very relevant. A review of the history of the postal service shows that in 1840, the first postage stamp in the history of the world was used in Britain. A decade later, the first use of stamps in the Indian subcontinent began in 1852 with the hand of Sir Bartel Frere, then Commissioner of Sindh. The name of the stamp was – ‘Sindh Dock’. After stamps were issued for a couple of years, the East India Company introduced a uniform postal system throughout the subcontinent. The stamp had a picture of Queen Victoria. Until independence in 1947, all stamps in the Indian subcontinent bore the image of either Queen Victoria or her successors.
The glorious history of the postal service of independent Bangladesh also started during our great war of liberation in 1971. We did not just fight with arms. We fought through cultural activists, players, common people and Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. Postage stamps are also part of that struggle. On 29 July 1971, eight stamps designed by Indian citizen Biman Mallick (Biman Chand Mallick), which were issued by the Mujibnagar Government, Bangladesh Mission in Calcutta and London. The Mujibnagar government took this initiative as a diplomatic process to build world public opinion in favour of our independence. The eight commemorative stamps issued by the Mujibnagar government and the House of Commons of the United Kingdom on July 29, 1971 have reflected our nationalism, statehood and liberation war in the world. There is a reason to celebrate this day as a national day and not just by the postal department. Through this, the existence of the state has been highlighted which has caused a stir all over the world.
The postal department is already emerging with the addition of digital commerce. Digital technology has turned the current world into a global village. There is no alternative to transforming the postal service into an appropriate technology to meet the challenges of technology. About 40,000 workers are engaged in the postal service in ten thousand post offices in the country. A program has been taken to digitalise the post office to make it a useful force in establishing a digitally equitable society based on the vast infrastructure and network knowledge of 80,000 hands of 40,000 people in all the post offices across the country.
As a very old organisation, the postal department has many flaws and backwardness. In order to overcome the existing backwardness, it is necessary to digitalise all the activities of the Postal Department. The Department of Posts has entered the digital age from the traditional method under the direction of the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Mr. Mustafa Jabbar in the quest to establish the golden Bengal of Bangabandhu’s dream by making successful the ongoing struggle of the visionary leader Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. As a result of the digitalisation program, the Postal Department has launched mobile financial services, digital money orders, postal cash cards and digital commerce. Following the transformation of 8,500 post offices in the country into digital post offices, the grassroots people of the country are getting 200 digital services from the government.
The vast network of post offices across the country is used by private entrepreneurs engaged in digital commerce. As a result, it will be possible to transport and distribute perishable goods including vegetables faster across the country. To this end, initiatives are being taken to set up frozen chambers in postal transport vehicles and sorting centers in 64 districts of the country. This will open a new horizon in the development of digital commerce in the country. The post office’s extensive transportation network and vast infrastructure have been utilised to serve the people in the global epidemic caused by Covid-19. As a result of the unimaginable development and application of digital technology, the ancient institution of our postal department is turning around. In addition to developing the post office as a digital post office, initiatives have already been taken to make the existing manpower digitally useful.
To celebrate this year’s World Postal Day, the Department of Posts has taken the initiative to give a reception to Nubaysha Islam, an eighth-grade student of Ananda Niketan Vidyalaya of Sylhet, who has won the gold medal in the 50th International Letter Writing Competition (LLWC) organised by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) as the world’s best letter writer. Nubaysha Islam has won the Competition held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Nubaysha wrote the winning letter to her younger sister Amal, a family member during the coronavirus epidemic. Nubaysha Islam was declared the winner in the letter category. Bangladesh is happy with Nubaysha’s achievement and Honourable Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Mr. Mustafa Jabbar responded by saying, “This is a global recognition of our talent.”
The writer is an Information and Public Relations Officer, Posts and Telecommunications Division