The 75th Independence Day coincides with another milestone in the country’s history — it was on August 15, 1972, that the Postal Identification Number (PIN) was introduced in India.


Why was the PIN code introduced?

  • According to the Department of Posts, there were 23,344 post offices, primarily in urban areas, in India at the time of Independence. But, the country was growing rapidly and the postal network had to keep pace.
  • The PIN code was meant to ease the process of mail sorting and delivery in a country where different places, often, have the same or similar names, and letters are written in a wide variety of languages.


How does the PIN code work?

The PIN is made up of six digits —

      • The first number indicates the postal region — Northern, Eastern, Western, Southern; and number 9, which signifies the Army Postal Service.
      • The second number denotes a sub-region, and
      • the third represents the sorting district.
      • The remaining numbers narrow the geography further to the specific post office making the delivery.


Who was the person behind the initiative?

The person behind the initiative was Shriram Bhikaji Velankar, additional secretary in the Union Ministry of Communications and a senior member of the Posts and Telegraphs Board.


What are some parallel systems followed world over?

  • Globally, in the US, the Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP) code was introduced July 1, 1963, under the aegis of the Postal Service Nationwide Improved Mail Service plan to improve the speed of mail delivery.
  • According to the Library of Congress, “Under the old system letters went through about 17 sorting stops – the new system was going to be considerably less time-consuming utilizing newer, more mechanical systems”.
  • In the UK, the sorting of mail started getting mechanised in the mid-1960s. The key to mechanisation is an alphanumeric postal code that provides for sorting by machine at every stage of handling, including the carrier’s delivery route. The coding equipment translates the postal code into a pattern of dots by means of which machines can sort mail at eight times the speed of manual sorting.
  • Japan created its postal code address system in July 1968, and automatic postal code reader-sorters exist in major post offices of the country.