My recent experience with governmentese has convinced me that the more evolved a society is,the more complicated it gets. Consider this :
When I was an infant all those years ago, my mother would happily leave me with the neighbours and go out to the shops for a bit – may be to just dash around for half an hour or so, but I would be happily left with people who were neither related to me nor paid to look after me while she did some chores.
We would leave a set of keys with the neighbours so that there was always a spare set to use if we were ever locked out. In fact we left our house keys with the neighbours and asked them to water the plants while we were away, let the servant in the day we were to arrive so that the house could be kept clean and ready for us when we returned home. We even offered our homes fully furnished with no cupboards locked to friends who needed a place to stay while we were away or gave them a bed or a room if required.
We would strike up conversations in trains, busses and even random queues , during which we would exchange life stories and strike up friendships that lasted a lifetime.
But today alas, all that has changed. We not only is every person guilty till proven otherwise but each person has to go to extraordinary lengths to prove his innocence.
Consider this : Anna Shetty wants to apply for a visa to fly to a Schengen country with her infant to meet the infant’s father. The father has sent a letter of invitation to both the mother and child yet, he has to send an affidavit duly signed by a competent authority giving his consent to his spouse travelling with his infant to meet him!!!! Where is the logic in that? And what is worse is that when Anna Shetty’s husband went to the competent authority ,he found to his consternation that the office existed only in cyberspace and the ground reality didn’t match its internet presence!!!! Now this is in a First World Country where everything supposedly runs smoother than silk.
|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
So why is it surprising that things in India are difficult? After all, considering that 30% of the jobs are allotted to people solely on the basis of affirmative policy and where training is more instant than coffee, it is no wonder that getting a simple gas connection or a gas refill requires the patience of a saint. Twenty days ago I booked my gas on line. Funnily enough when it didn’t come and the new cylinder was approaching its end date, I went on line to track my order only to find that it had vanished. So after several days of telephone calls to numbers which were always busy, I miraculously managed to find a slot and even more miraculously, the phone was attended to. So I booked my gas and was told I had to wait 3-4 days. Three days later, despite my crossed fingers and crossed toes, the gas got over and I took the cylinder to the shop for a refill. Thankfully I had taken an earlier bill which was correlated with the pending order. I was told that I had to wait ten more days before the system even thought of processing my order. Now I can’t think of a catastrophe worse than being without a gas in my house. So I begged and pleaded and persuaded the man to please please please allow me to take home a cylinder. Luckily he obliged but not before I gave him a xeroxed copy of either my Driver’s licence, or my PAN card or even my Adhar card. Luckily for me I had two government Id‘s on me and luckily I found a xerox shop 100 yards down the road. I was charged Rs.2 for photocopying a document which is barely 2″ x 1.5″ and the explanation given was that I needed to xerox both sides and just for my information it was already Rs. 2/side in Gujerat so I should be lucky I’m in Bombay where it is still half the cost. ( what was the logic in that???? I didn’t get it)
I xeroxed the card and went down a narrow lane to the gas godown where a sulky attendant asked me for the bill and the xeroxed id. I was shocked when he tore off only one side of the copy, throwing away the other Re.1 worth side saying that he needed only the front side. I was made to sign the copy and the bill before I was allowed to take away the gas cylinder. Needless to say, there was no question of returning any change and I made a hasty return home before the family died of starvation.
While I am grateful that I could bring home a gas cylinder, I am amazed at how difficult the Govt is making life for the simple housewife. How does a person with no mobile phone or internet connection make a gas booking? How does a person without a PAN card or Adhar card or Driver’s licence get a gas cylinder?