It’s the ‘P’ Man, who’s the P man, is it Pat, the postman calling?
well yes but I’m also the Passport Man Today,
WARNING WARNING! MiXed Metaphors approaching
It feels like we have the proverbial iceberg, the passport itself is wonderful but beneath the depths it has so much meaning and provides incredible opportunities.
But its also a hill and its taken so much effort to climb this hill: you know it, if you’ve read our missives, getting all the ducks in line and then the application itself but in this moment of absolute glory, it’s all forgotten because…
The retro phone kicks into gear, I hear the metaphysical cogs whirring, the bureaucracy has woken from its deep slumber.
Ping a SMS/Text arrives:
Your application with file no xxx has been granted on a Pre Police Verification basis. Received on 30/03/16
Passport printing initiated for your File No xxx You will receive SMS once your passport is printed. Received on 31/03/16
There is a sudden surge of activity after over two whole weeks of SMS lethargy (its maybe down to the hot weather and the Ministry has fallen into a vat of Lethagy Air – check previous entry in bloglet)
For one more time, (I hope) I log into:
Passport Seva, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India
I’m feeling nostalgic, have I become institutionalised and will I miss it? I imagine in some weird science fiction way that everytime I log on someone in the Ministry notices and nudges their colleague to say: “look here that English guy is visiting the site again, he is persistently annoying, what else can we do to wind him up!?”
What date is it? Surely as it’s not the 1st April it isn’t a joke!
Now I wonder what to do next.
NO NO NO, don’t apply for fresh passport AGAIN you nutter.
I think I’ll view Saved/Submitted Applications and then maybe
It’s now been over three weeks, since our last visit to the Regional Passport Office (RPO), and the Houston incident, the letter was sent to the headteacher, she replied confirming the TC was legitimate and to sent a letter back to the RPO within three days. Spot on.
Then a vacuum, we’re lost in Space….what’s holding it up now?
I call them, on average, every two days. I get the standard answers, it’s being dealt with, it will be approved by the end of the day, the officer has it…. blah blah blah
I send emails and a fax, then I give you, me and Manjula a rest,
I’m back on the case today.
[If you’re getting confused about timings, think what it’s like for us, we’re now ‘Back to the Future’ So real time and bloglet time creeps closer together]
I must congratulate the passport service on gaining triple ISO certification and its various digital awards.
In my view, and I say this as a sometime consultant who has reviewed services and systems in the Government, not-for-profit and corporate worlds, a system and service is best judged on how well it performs when everything doesn’t go smoothly or according to some abstract plan. It should perform even better when it doesn’t go to plan. It’s essential that a citizen’s service such as this can be properly accessed by all sectors of the community including the poorest, least able and uneducated. Only then should it be considered a success and have met its objectives.
It’s critical that individuals operating the system should be able to spot problems and resolve them, with flexibility and an absolute focus on serving the recipient.
OK, rant over but it’s hard to convey how powerless this makes one feel because as you’ve probably guessed, I don’t think the service has performed well.
Ok ok we were disappointed that we weren’t getting the new slick service promised by the minister. BUT we do have two other services on our side:
The police service are with us and on the job. They might be a bit traditional BUT we’ll have no worries
Thankfully, we’ve also got the SMS service also ‘on our side’ otherwise it might be confusing and not very fast.
So its happening
Manj has met the Policeman, neighbours sign to say Manjula is who she says she is and lives here. Result!
Our SMS arrives on Stephen’s trusty phone (it even gets a chortle from our friends in Mysore!)
they come fast fast and furious, usually in the middle of the night…
Your GSC no. for Passport verification is xxxxxxxx. Contact Nazarbad PS for verification. Courtesy: Police Computer Wing 20/02/16
Your Passport Verification is complete. Contact your Passport Office. Courtesy: Police Computer Wing. 05/03/16
Police report has been submitted by your Thana and its under review at Commissioner Office, District Mysuru city. 09/03/16
Police report not yet finalised by Commissioner Office, District Mysuru City (Mysuru). Contact Police for details 11/03/16
xxx Police has submitted clear report for your current address. 11/03/16
called at Police Commissioner, report has gone to the RPO, I called, they received it. OK the final bit did take ten days but it’s sorted. The Police service has had to deal with 800 verification reports just for passports. It must take a heavy toll.
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?
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?