What is PIN Code? - History, and its Importance

Ever imagined how would the postal service work so smoothly if a systematic code wasn't invented?

Hitanshu Bhatt
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PIN Code or Postal Index Number is a 6-digit code used to identify the location across various areas in India. Let's see what is PIN Code and its importance in the Indian postal services.

If you have ever sent or received a courier, you might have come across a 6-digit code at the end of the address. This is nothing but a code to segregate a location area-wise for the courier or postal people to identify the same. This article focuses on What is PIN Code? Who invented it? What is its significance and how to identify the location from where your parcel is being sent? 

When was it invented?

who introduced pin code in india
Source - Special cover for Sriram Bhikaji Velankar 

The Postal Index Number or PIN was introduced on 15 August 1972 by Shriram Bhikaji Velankar (famously known as the father of the Postal Index Number). India is a vast geographic area and due to the heavy influx of mails from all over the country, it became difficult for the postal department to sort the deliveries area-wise. This is when Shriram, the then additional secretary in the Union Ministry of Communications and a senior member of the Posts and Telegraph Boards felt the need to form a unified system. The introduction of PIN Codes solved the problem of sorting and delivering mails. This also overcame the problem of places with the same name in different cities and language barriers in identifying the addresses of the courier. 

Breaking down each digit of the PIN Code

The Six-digit code was strategically created to identify a region in the country. The First digit states the region of the location; east, west, north or south, the second digit stands for sub-region and the third digit signifies the sorting area of the region. The Postal Department identifies 9 geographical regions with 1 region reserved for the Army Postal Services across the country. The sub-regions are further classified into 23 postal circles. Each of these Circles is headed by a Chief Postmaster General and each Region is headed by a Postmaster General. In the Circles and Regions, there are other functional units like Circle Stamp Depots, Postal Stores Depots, Mail Motor Service and many more. The last 3 digits stand for the delivery post office code. 

meaning of 6 digits in pin code

Let's take an example to understand the implementation of these codes. Suppose the PIN Code is 110007. Here,1 stands for the northern region (it includes; Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir), the first 2 digits, 11 stand for the region Delhi, and the third digit stands for Jawahar Nagar as a sorting area. the last three digits signify 12 post offices in the Jawahar Nagar area. Therefore, the PIN Code 110007 is from Jawahar Nagar in Delhi. 

Post Offices in India

There are 808 Head Post Offices, 24,302 Sub Post Offices, 1,34,141 Branch Post Offices, and 3,93,984 Letter Boxes across the country (as per India Post's calmative data on 31/08/2021). And to one's surprise a few post offices are at some of the most unique locations and need a special mention. You can drop a letter at the world's highest post office - the Hikkim post office in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, or visit the floating post office in Srinagar, Kashmir. Such is the uniqueness of the Indian PIN Code system. So next time you send or receive a courier, you know what the PIN code means. 

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