India Uncut

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Who needs a passport?

Tavleen Singh isn't amused by the "annual chanting" of terms like "liberalisation" and "economic reform" as budget day approaches. These are just jargon, she says, and little has changed in India. As an example, she cites the procedure for getting passports. She writes:
Luckily, foreigners need never to apply for an Indian passport or they would discover just how Third World we are. A passport is not a favour but the fundamental right of every citizen but the procedures involved are so convoluted that if a billion Indians decided to apply for passports we would have to call out the Army. Most countries require a single signature on a one-page form. Indians need to fill in a form that if every "annexure" is counted becomes the size of a small pamphlet. Under the new "tatkaal" scheme you are exempted a police inquiry but need the signature of a civil servant above the rank of joint secretary, plus a ration card, plus you need to write your signature at least twelve times and give your thumb impression three times. Since "tatkaal" is available only to more privileged citizens, think of the absurdity of the ration card requirement. Why should anyone above the poverty line still need a ration card?

Why should a police inquiry be a requirement when in these computerised days a passport can be cancelled in a minute? How many ordinary Indians know an official above the rank of joint secretary?

Stupid, outdated, cumbersome procedures that cost taxpayers vast amounts of money are the leitmotif of Indian governance.

There's more. Read it all.
amit varma, 2:30 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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