Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hight of Patriotism: Indian Passport Dilemma!

Indian Passport Office (PO) with all their corrupt and age old paper work methods, which are designed in such a manner that, nobody who either doesn't have money to fuel a passport agent's propellers or a hands on experience with PO himself, can never be able to see his on face on his own passport without seeing the robust (don't even dream so!) bureaucratic culture of Indian administration. 

I think, Indian government has a two point hidden agenda behind making of this tortoise style PO. First: "They want their fellow countrymen to always stay in the country!" Because, I've seen many faces in one such Indian PO recently...they have been visiting these POs like mosquitoes in a Saharan  Desert (not a single drop to drink! -although a very far fetched imagination... :). Second: "They want some flourishing of entrepreneurship in the country in the form of passport dalaals (agents)!

The most amazing thing is their (PO's) document verification procedure. Let me show you the steps involved: 

1. You apply online for a passport through PO's website, which is one of the most convoluted websites that you would have ever seen in your entire life!

2. This website doesn't show you the steps involves in application form filling using an example; so that you have plenty of scope to commit a well expected error!

3. They will give you a verification date (among some options that you would have, but all of them will be at-least 10 days away from the date of your application, even if you want to file for Tatkal (urgent) forms, you will compulsorily have to wait for that period!).

4. Then you go to one of the POs (depending upon your location). When you reach to the vicinity of PO, you will discover one of the most pathetic state of art building, standing on the overburdened shoulders of some age old facility. Now, let me list down some VIP stuff that you would get free of cost when you visit one such building:

     4.1 Lift won't work (if one is there!), Ceiling-fans are there just to make you feel that they are still alive!. 

   4.2 The building houses some of the most frightening faces on mother earth. These dragon-face people (employees of PO) will do everything to make you feel uncomfortable...(Believe me, this is not limited to the POs only...most of government offices in India are being guarded by such monsters! Go to any one of the courts or PSU banks in India and you will have your Eureka moment!)

5. As soon as you enter the office, you are asked....sorry typing error! You are goaded to the end of the never ending queues (so called verification queues, or what I call; "torture trains!"). 

6. Wait...don't hurry, because, hurry won't solve anything there! As late as your number comes, the verifying monster will tell you one (and only one) BIG deficiency in you list of presented documents and will ask (typing mistake again!) you to bring/buy/bribe/steal/make the missing document again and come back!

This is a vicious cycle, because, as I told you; he/she will tell you only one mistake (and not all), so that, you come again and again with fewer and fewer errors; until you totally graduate in the art of being a passport agent in the next life (if not this one!). 

Even if you get through this whole melodrama (which has been over simplified by me), you will soon (Caution: there is no such word as 'SOON' in PO's dictionary!), see the face of one more monster: "An Indian police officer". Remember! He is there to check whether you could pay him Rs. 500 or Rs. 1000, for moving your file up for the final round!

My best wishes to those who are about to go through one such process and specially to those who will go without handsome pocket size or ready to eat documents for awaiting monsters! 

-True Story :)

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