India has the largest postal service in the world – and now it is stepping in to help deliver lifesaving medicines during a countrywide lockdown aimed at tackling the coronavirus pandemic. The BBC’s Ayeshea Perera in Delhi reports.
Red postal vans are a familiar sight in India. They make thousands of journeys every day, criss-crossing the country’s wide network of post offices in 600,000 villages.
The postal service does much more than deliver letters and packages. It is also a bank, a pension fund and a primary savings instrument for millions of Indians. Now it will also be transporting medical equipment and drugs to where they are needed most, at a time when transport has come to a standstill.
When India went into total lockdown on 24 March in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus, all businesses – apart from essential services – were ordered to shut and people were told to stay home. Given that the announcement was made barely four hours ahead of the lockdown going into effect, many industries were left in the lurch – including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and labs at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19.