Knock knock

who’s there?

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,

Hooray!!

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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…

Above all ….

this is one proud woman, well done Manjula!

and I’m so pleased, so onto the next task!

With a little help from our friends

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!

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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

check the Status Tracker

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Phew.

We wait with baited breath.

It still has to arrive

and our friends….?

Ok we admit it, we gave in and we asked for help.

three weeks later

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.

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[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]

 

 

Houston there’s a problem

BUT we’re not aiming for the moon. We just want a passport for a ‘Passage from India’ is that too much to ask for?

 

We now know what this statement on the acknowledgement letter means..

Documents Verified with originals, however, confirmation from issuing authority is required.

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No one told us at the time, of course, the officer just said (ie lied) we could have the passport and get Police verification afterwards BUT we now realise there’s a problem with the TC

prepare for re-entry

I telephoned the office and we are called back to the main Regional Passport Office in Bangalore.

 

To make this happen, we have to go all the way back to Bangalore, that means, book a taxi, three hours on the road, and a further hour through the treacly traffic jams, an eight hour round trip, a relatively short queue to get our number and interview time, then come back four hours later for another queue to see an officer. Unfortunately the location isn’t good and any interesting place or attraction is too far to go, so we enjoy a late breakfast and chill out in a local park.

It seems that The Babu (civil servant), on our first visit, (she had a bit of a rant) was not impressed that Manjula didn’t answer questions quickly enough and didn’t know her proper school name. In the Civil Service World it indicated that she might not be legitimate. In another world it might show that she was only seven at the time, have hardly ever attended the school and that she was a woman from a poor background who’s had crap schooling.

How did she not know the name of the school? It seems that it’s known, by the local children, as the name of the slum area: Bamboo Bazaar. Manjula, who attended there when age seven (35 years ago) didn’t know the proper name of the school. Bugger.

That’s raised the Babu’s suspicions or at least provided an excuse for a right old runaround.

Because of this they require  her TC (transfer certificate from school,which serves as her proof of date of birth) verified by the headteacher. More uncertainty and delay.

So they plan to write to the headteacher to verify the TC is correct.

I’m not at all sure why we needed to be here in Bangalore for all this… So we do try get useful and help it along a bit…. and get the letter sent fast!

We provide another two copies of the TC. On top of the ones we’ve already provided. They are scanned on the first floor.

Back to ground floor, officer signs chit that acknowledges papers scanned in.

Up, to second floor to trigger the formal letter to go to headteacher.

Back to ground floor for something or other.

Back to second floor, God knows why.

One more trip down and then up. They promise to get the letter off tomorrow. (we’ve become part of the team so we wander in and out of the office up on floor 2) That’s why we did all these ups and downs, we’re running out of time to get the passport and apply for visa for the BIG trip.

I now have a new worry: Manjula’s Disappointment if it doesn’t work out. How has this become so bloody difficult?

 

 

I’m sick of seeing the Passport service home page

and the message… “application being reviewed by the Regional Passport office” which is a completely useless update.

So we’re all going to have a break and not do the passport blog thing over the weekend.

I can hear the sighs of relief and hip hip hoorays reverberating around the Facebook and blog world…. 😉

To bring it, nearly up to date (blog time is like winter time as its a bit behind) so far, we’ve:

  • revised and amended Manjula’s ID ( Aadhar card) so it is now correct and consistent,
  • visited the Bank manager for documents  to prove her address,
  • obtained the TC (transfer certificate from her school)
  • applied and received a PAN (tax card) card,
  • sworn an affidavit with the advocate,
  • submitted the online application and documents,
  • attended the Bangalore office to actually submit the application itself and for Manjula to be interviewed,
  • met the police,
  • neighbours signed forms and verification report gone from Police to Regional Passport Office.

phew……

It’s cost thousands of Rupees, endless meetings, hours on the internet and in traffic and a ton more grey hairs

and I’ve learned a LOT

but there is the risk of it taking over and lethargy air got there first, so let’s have a nice relaxing weekend and a cycle trip with Simon in the morning

passport service, a deserved award winner?

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.

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we’ve got the service on our side

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

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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!

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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.

the SMS service has now gone quiet