First let me say that I am an unabashed voter of BJP from the day I first cast my vote. And I have supported the Jan Sangh before the BJP was even formed. Further, to me, Narendra Modi is the best administrator that Gujarat had since its formation. Lots has been written about Gujarat and how development, from the most basic requirements of adequate water and uninterrupted power, to better roads and highways has been made a possibility. Further, this example indicates how NM governed Gujarat in an efficient manner making people work and produce results.
The original blog authored by well known writer Sandeep Balakrishna (@sandeepweb) is now not available.
This is not about Gujarat. It is about how some transformations have taken place in governance. Shall keep this short and mention only two examples. In one I quote verbatim from an email received from a friend of mine. This relates to the Indian Consular Office in Sydney and the transformation since NM became PM. It is self explanatory.
“———- Forwarded message ———-
From: NARAYANASWAMY RAMANATHAN >
Date: Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:58 PM
Subject: Fwd: The Transformation in Govt offices overseas – An Experience
Let me tell you the experience my friend had at the Indian consulate in Sydney yesterday. He had gone there for the life certificate and was amazed at seeing the transformation . Excerpt from his email from Sydney.
• The man at the reception asked me even before I could say anything ‘sir have you come for the life certificate’. I said ‘Yes’. He asked me to give him the documents, take coffee and have a seat
• Some guys were already sitting and some kept coming. After some time, the councillor came out (I was told later that he comes out every half hour), called out the names, made them sign the certificate, signed it himself and handed it over. I was off in half an hour when the web site says it will take one day
• As though this was not enough, there was an old Anglo Indian pensioner from Railways – William D Fransis on a wheelchair accompanied by his grand daughter. Frail and unable to speak. The consular saw him and asked for his form first. With the form in hand, he went to him and said ‘Sir from next year onwards, please do not come here for this certificate. Just go to your treating GP (Doctor), he will sign this certificate. After that please post it to us along with a photo copy of your passport. You will get it back in a day and if you desire we will also send it to your paying office
• All pensioners present were amazed at the transformation. As though in unison, they all said ‘I am going for Modi’s public appearance next week’
Being a bit curious, I stayed on and started asking the receptionist about this noticeable transformation. He told me the following:
• We have to send to MEA, a monthly report highlighting the problems faced by visitors to the consulate and what actions have been taken to remove or reduce them? This is the result of that
• I asked him to tell me a few other improvements. He started off with a whole list. Let me tell you one of them. They have started a new emergency service. Say after office hours one learns that ones father has passed away. You SMS your visa request on a given number. If the officer on duty considers it to be an emergency request, he will call you back and speak to you and in all probability for such a case give you a visa the moment you are able to reach him with your passport. I remember my son’s tears when he pleaded for a visa to get home after my wife’s death. While the Indian embassy tried its best to delay it, his Australian boss in Canberra had to intervene. My eyes are flowing with tears as I remember it while trying to bring this transformation to you. Only one thing has changed since then in the consulate – the PM. The same building the same staff
• I left the consulate with my chest high – 56 inches
Guys, this is a National Opportunity for us to redeem and rediscover ourselves. Let us contribute in the effort and not derail it. The least we can do is to have patience. Things are happening
Please do pass on this First Hand Account of Transformation to those who may not be knowing and to the media which will never publish such good deeds of the man. From my side, I sent an immediate e mail to the PMO with a copy to the Consular and the Ambassador.”
The second experience is my own. It was the simple act of getting my passport renewed as I had run out of pages and I expect to be travelling shortly. To put things in perspective, I would like to preface this experience with the events of the last two times I had to get a passport.
The first time was in 1994 when I had to get one for my wife. The process was to get an appointment at the time of getting the form and then standing in queue in front of the passport office. Since the form I had obtained was prior to this rule of appointment as a prerequisite, the gentleman at the door refused us an entry into the premises. Some arguing and we got in. When we reached the counter inside, the clerk refused to take the application on the same grounds that I did not have an appointment! Again some arguing and a threat to barge into the Passport Officer’s cabin did the trick. This was not all. We waited and waited till around 2 PM. When my wife’s turn came the counter was banged shut in the sensitive way that Government officials treat the hoi polloi. The clerks at the counter sat in plain sight of people waiting who were trapped within the office and had their lunch. There was no canteen or any way that we could eat. Finally, at 3:15 PM, our turn came and 5 minutes later we were on our way. To get the passport, we had to do a haziri at the passport office after a few days and just a day before the deadline for applying for my wife’s visa expired.
The next time was in 2005 and this time a similar experience awaited us when we applied for passport s for my wife and son. The passports arrived just in time for travelling to Singapore on a family holiday.
Contrast this with my experience a week back. The start was a little more propitious. No getting form, just filling up a simple online application, uploading the application onto the passport authority website and getting an appointment for a personal appearance at the passport office. The last part took a couple of days as there were holidays in between and one has to log in at 16:30 hours to pay and get the appointment. Since I applied for a tatkal passport, the appointment was given two days later. I paid half the fee online and the tatkal amount was to be collected at the passport office.
On the day of my appointment, I landed at the passport office more than an hour before the time given. Since this was in the morning, I had time for a darshini breakfast and went to the office. At 9 AM I was let in, no queue desperately waiting at the door as had been the case a few years ago. The office itself is spick and span. It is manned by well trained executives who are familiar with information technology. There is a nice cafeteria inhouse and public conveniences such as drinking water and washrooms. But I had no occasion to use the facilities as will be evident from the next two paragraphs
The appointment was at 9:45 and one of the employees first went through my documents for address proof and also the old passport. Since I am a senior citizen (I use that status when convenient!), I was called within 10 minutes and had to go through a four stage process, the first of which was issue of token, second was scrutiny of my documents, submission of self attested photocopies, taking a photograph for the passport (no submission of passport sized photos now), payment of fees and obtention of biometric data. The third and fourth stages were to verify all the form data and ensure it is in order. Lastly one is given an acknowledgement for ones application. Last time the old passport was taken by the passport authorities. This time it was cancelled and returned to me.
I was out of the door by around 10:20 AM, well before time for the family lunch at my sister’s home to celebrate my Mother’s birthday. Took me a lot longer to get back home about 10 km away!
After the appointment, I was kept posted through email and SMS of the status of my application. The next day, I was informed that the passport had been sent for printing and would reach me after it was quality checked. On the third day, I got the passport to my hand through Speed Post. Less than a week from the time I uploaded my application, the new passport was with me. I do have one complaint though! As the photograph for the passport is taken at the passport office, it is a pretty ghastly looking me on it. Maybe I do look ghastly now! But I will take this over having to jostle with the great unwashed.
Both examples given by me of improvement of services to the public, one abroad and one in India, relate to the Ministry of External Affairs. This Ministry is headed by Ms Sushma Swaraj. Big thanks to her for the improvement in the working of offices under her. And for ushering in Acche Din!
There is no way that a TRP hungry biased and crooked media will highlight the good. So this is my contribution to disseminating information about good work done in a quiet and efficient way by our own Modi Sarkar! And by Sushmaji who is making the least noise among the Ministers in office! Am sure we will see more transformations in days to come and a much better India in 60 months.