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Ankur on 03 June 2013

What is the status of my passport ? No Answer!

Its 6 AM, hundreds of people from all age groups assembling in front of the main gate which is still locked. This is not a scene of a cricket stadium for an IPL match, it a scene of any passport office in India.

For a 64 year old senior citizen, Nizamuddin, this is his 7th visit in last 6 months. His wish for Hajj pilgrimage is still a dream. Mrs. Aarti, a housewife and a mother has postponed her visa interview dates several times awaiting her passport renewal. And there is a 24 year old Sumitra, an engineering graduate, who has to join a company in USA in next 15 days, or she might loose her dream job. All of them are here to ask just one simple question, "What is the status of my passport application?".

Why is it so difficult to get a passport, ration card, driving license or voter ID in India? You know the answer to this million dollar question. Corruption!

According to confirmed sources, ex passport agents and people who worked closely with passport office, average monthly income of a passport officer is Rs 20 to 50 lakhs. This is the net income after everybody in the office right from passport officer to the watchman (chaprasi) gets his share. And if you think your elected representatives has nothing to do with it, you are wrong, the money flows to the highest authorities' in the department that is the honorable ministers in our government. In fact the honest people in ministry of external affairs are always posted in an office (a.k.a backoffice) which has least impact on the lives of citizens of India. Its because of this corruption that we keep getting news that a terrorist of a hawala broker held dozens of passport in different names. And authentic, innocent Indian citizens who has no criminal records, cannot get one passport.

There is no co-operation and synchronization between the police authorities and the passport office. Most of the pending passport applications gets lost between passport office waiting for police verification report and police verfication done but never reached passport office. In such cases it becomes our responsibility to contact the nearest police station and get the status of police verification. And visiting a police station is the most unpleasant experience in life. Corruption in police is another hurdle in your passport application process. If you do not pay few hundred bucks to the police constable (hawaldar) who visited your house to do the verification, there are chances he will send negative police report. And in such cases it becomes your responsibility to contact the passport office and ask them to resend the application and then convincing the police officer to do the re-verification.

So, bottomline is either you live with the system, continue paying bribes, forget about it once you get your passport and live the "Chalta hai" (I don't care) attitude. Or speak up, form communities for the common cause against corruption and bring awareness among people. Its only us who can put pressure on government to make systems and workflow efficient. If you do not act now, your kids will pay price for it, just like we are paying because our previous generation kept silent.

So keep complaining.
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