Till yesterday, I was a proud Indian. But today, that feeling of patriotism seems to be silently drowning somewhere in the deep ocean of frustration, anger and hate. If you are wondering, let me clear the air on this.
Today, no paper work in India is being carried out without corruption. It is as if corruption and Govt. Services have almost become synonyms. There are, still, many sectors like banking and all which I respect to the core and are less subjected to the kind of corruption I’m referring to, but still, I see the whole Govt. sector as corrupt. My words might seem to be harsh, but then some time or the other these government employees have got to learn that their deeds are causing a lot of problems to their own fellow citizens.
I have been to the passport office five times now, (courtesy: the Passport Office, Hyd.) and every time the result remained the same. The first time, I was given entry into the passport office, but the application was rejected for some unspecified reasons. Rest of the times, I just stood in the line for hours and nothing productive came out of that.
I have now figured out that my way into the office is not decided by the validity of my documents that I’m going to provide, it is rather decided by the amount of money that I carry in my pocket. The brokers and the security guards of the office have built a strong, invisible fence around it. And there is an entry fee for this exhibition. Only people who can pay Rs. 6000/- or more are eligible to get their way inside the passport office and get a fresh, new, ready-made passport just within 5 days. The rest are those poor bastards who think that they can get inside without paying the aforementioned amount and keep standing in the line everyday hoping that luck will favor them someday. I’m afraid, I was one of them. I, quickly, realized that my way to the passport office was possible only through a broker. So I went to ask one of them about their rates and the complete procedure of getting things done. Here’s what I learnt from them:
A. Brokers are never polite. They really don’t give a shit of what you think about them. They never take a bath. Their faces are unshaven with a thick beard growing in every direction on their cheeks. They chew Guthka without brushing their teeth. They wear 2 gold rings on every finger, on both the hands, including the thumbs.
B. They never really tell you what documents you have to show and what documents you have to carry along with you at the time of verification until you start talking about money. And then they’ll give you 3 options. (at least I was given 3 options):
Option 1. Pay Rs. 350/- and your file will be taken into the office. Then stand in the line for tokens. When you get your token, you can get inside the office and get your things done.
Option 2. Pay Rs. 1500/- and they’ll buy a token for you. So, now you don’t have to stand in the line of tokens from 6 in the morning and get disappointed when the gate security guard politely asks you to fuck off.
Option 3. Pay Rs. 6000/- and relax. You don’t even have to come here. If you want you can go into the office, have a coke, chat with the other employees, use the toilet etc. The broker will make the passport ready in 5 days and deliver to you at your door, personally.
C. As my name was misprinted on the passport, I had applied for correction of the same. Now, the brokers are the gods of their will. They will pronounce correction as ‘collection‘, and some times even ‘corruption‘, as they are the kings there. (Hell yeah! They are right. 1. They are going to ‘collect‘ money from me for the work which is actually supposed to be done without their help. And 2. They are helping me to ‘corrupt‘ them as I am left with no other option.) Education and literacy has got nothing to do with making black money. Nothing!
Anyways, after knowing these things, I said to myself that I can get the token if I stand in the line and there is no need to pay them. So, I stood there silently for a few minutes. People (there) were discussing about the number of tokens that are given each day for passport correction/renewal. I came to know that only 150 tokens were given everyday for that purpose. I immediately went to the beginning of the line and counted the number of people standing in front of me. I realized that mine was the 95th position. (Fuck! 94 people came before me and the time was only 7 in the morning). Nevertheless, I was sure that I was going to get through the gate.
Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony. After allowing 60 people, the guard at the security gate asked us (the few unlucky guys) to fuck off saying that the 150 tokens were already taken and there was no point standing there. There was no ray of hope that could fetch us inside that gate and that no amount of argument would ever be sufficient to convince the guard. The only way we could get inside the office was by paying Rs. 1500/- to the broker. The broker, to whom I’d spoken earlier, came running to me saying that I should’ve accepted his offer beforehand. But still, I refused to agree. He then asked me to try convincing the security guard for the last time before leaving back home. But that last forlorn attempt, too, was useless as this guy made some gesture to the guard asking him not to permit me in.
So, there I was! Broken, failed and disappointed with the system. This disappointment lead to some kind of frustration which turned into anger and quickly got converted into hate. I started cursing the system, the corrupt officials, and the bloody, motherfucking brokers and the security guards. But is there any use of cursing them, I wondered! Well, here I was! Living in the world of dreams, thinking that India is not as corrupt as the people claim it to be. How wrong I was!
Yet, I’m glad that I have a powerful tool with me. A tool, which can make my voice heard. A tool, which can help the desolate and desperate people like me to come forward and raise their voice against this evil nurturing in our own home. I sincerely thank wordpress for giving me the freedom to express what I have come to know about my country, my people.