Manjula had a great time on her 43rd Birthday. Yes she’s 43!
Travelling out to Srirangaptnam for Puja at the Rangatha Temple to visit Ranga, Laxmi, Garuda, Narsima and Hanuman (so many Gods in one place!) and dinner at hotel Roopa in the evening. Over 43 friends from around the world via facebook and email sent their greetings.. That also helped make her day.
She now is planning her 50th party in the UK!
The Yorkshireman reached deep down into his pocket to pay for the meal for twelve people which cost much less than a recent, probably typical meal in London for three 🙂
As always in India it’s critical to get to the story under the surface. When I first met her, Manjula had three different birthdates. In India when someone doesn’t have a birth certificate (most poor and rural people, above a certain age) they use their TC or Transfer Certificate from school as evidence of their date of birth. As part of the rationalisation of her various inconsistent and conflicting forms of ID she had to sort it out and go for one.
Well, we seem to have ‘hit a chord’ with our imaginary board game. There has been interest via facebook, our web site and directly to our blog. Here’s a little more detail to satisfy your thirst. Rememeber, we’re doing this to get a passport!
We shoot ahead with this one! Maybe it’s not exactly playing the game but we did apply in advance, almost as a ‘dry-run.’
The PAN card is a registration to pay tax and is useful, amongst other things, to prove one’s name.
The Aadhar Card is the Indian name for the ID card, now becoming familiar the world over.
It works as a universal ID to help access a whole range of services. Based on biometrics (really?) it’s invaluable BUT… in Manjula’s case, she was listed as a male, name was incorrect and it was an old address. (no comment) So there needed to be significant changes (really!).
What is cool about this system is, it’s all amendable online: no brokers (aka middlemen), no need to visit offices nor queing. Absolutely fab! Requests to amend the details are submitted online. Updates are dealt with at a contact centre and confirmed or rejected via Email and SMS (text) At this stage, I’m overcome with serious enthusiasm.
I register with the system. (as Manjula of course… your wouldn’t believe how much her reading and computer skills have really, come-on 😉 )
I amend everything ALL at once. BIG BIG mistake. ALL rejected. Now then Stephen, listen up, less of the ‘bull in a China shop’ or ‘at a gate?’ go at it a little more gently.. Shanti Shanti. OK, so I submit the changes one by one, waiting each time for the confirmation of success before trying the next.
Sorted! Big achievements all round.
But next, we need proof of her address to show she has lived a for over a year at Moksha ‘Manor.’ An accepted way to do this is a bank account.
A stroke of luck.
I opened an account for Manjula years ago. With a couple of changes, a passbook newly printed off, her photo added together with a print off of the transactions of the previous year, a letter from the bank manager with a stamped photo of Manjula and Ducks away!
and finally, (I’m joking.. its not finally, stay with us guys) we need evidence of her Date of Birth.
In a traditionally informal society, such as this and especially for those people from a poor background, they would generally, not have a birth certificate. Evidence of their age and date of birth would therefore usually come from the school leaving or transfer certificate.
We’d first obtained it as part of the PAN process but needed to get it re-issued. sorted easily.
There’s another Donald Duck!
So we now have formal evidence of Manjula’s name, gender, image, her father’s name, her date of birth, age, and address (for over a year).
You might feel a bit exhausted just hearing the story.
I can assure you it’s been quite an ordeal just getting to this stage.
In real time (ie not blog time) it has taken months!
We’re now in a position to apply online for a passport…… What does the future hold?
to apply for the passport, we now need to gather various forms of ID but here is a stroke of luck. There is a quicker way to get a passport, known as TADKAL. Unfortunately, Manjula can’t apply under this scheme as you need to get a letter of support from a senior civil servant ( a way of institutionalising, it’s who you know!) and we don’t know one. However, the Government minister has recently announced a way to apply for a passport which is a sort of half-way-house. If Manjula has the correct ID and a signed affidavit she can speed up the process, get the passport quicker as a visit from the police would be held AFTER it’s issued. fab!
We have a result! We’re excited to have reached the first stage in our journey to get a passport for Manjula. The PAN card (registration to pay tax has arrived). Coincidentally, I’ve also got mine and one for the business. So what next?
remembering that our eventual aim is to get Manjula a passport, but let’s build up to the big tasks and start with something more straightforward
a simple first challenge was to get a PAN card for Manjula. You get a PAN card when you register to pay taxes. Country needs people to pay taxes so you’d expect it to be relatively easy. Well it, sort of, is and I’ve got one (as has the company), so it can’t be that difficult, can it?
pics of ID cards have been removed
This would be important as would be to learn from the process of obtaining it, we’d need to get Manjula’s various ID’s in line (rather like ducks) and the card itself would be a valuable addition to helping create a formal identity suited to the modern age 😉 yeh, right! what are we waiting for?
So the man to manage the process would be Ganesh, my very able accountant. He copes with my idiosyncratic accounting practices, so is nothing, if not flexible and adaptable.
But of course, the balloon (ie me, do check our business card) is ‘the fixer’ or is it gopher?
First stage is to get her three forms of ID that show her photo, name, Date of Birth and address… now let me just find them out…….
some of you may remember the story (earlier in this blog) or shared in our conversations over dinner, in Mysore, about Manjula getting her voting card.
She declared that her life was half over before she managed to vote. Well that set me on a journey to help sort out her various ID cards, in a sense to legitimise Manjula in the eyes of the state! This is still a very informal society, at least in some respects, so many people don’t have a birth certificate, know of their actual birthdate and maybe even just have one name. It is, of course, very important to get these things sorted especially if you want to do any formal business or even travel abroad. So this was to become one of our major projects. I immediately I realised there were all sorts of problems….