My passport validity was about to expire in a couple of months and I was thinking of renewing it sometime soon. Very recently got to know about ‘Passport Seva Kendra’ (PSK) through a friend and decided to use this newly launched facility to renew my passport. All the information was available on their website about the documents, process, fee structure etc., It was indeed a very smooth option to fill out all the form detail online as well as submitting the same through their website. Also, there was an option to schedule the appointment with passport issuing authority online!
To be doubly sure, I called up their toll free helpline 1800-258-1800 to ensure I have the right set of documents and the process followed is correct. Since there was no change in address, I just had to drop in personally at PSK at a pre-scheduled time with current passport which is about to expire. Well, the other documents included the appointment acknowledgement print out and 2 self attested photo copies from the current passport. I was told explicitly that there is no need to carry photographs as they have set up a digital imaging system to capture photo there itself while processing the form. Also, I was told that the fee for reissue of passport can be paid at the processing counter. All is well until this point.
Rest of the story as it unfolded made me realize the famous saying – “if everything goes smooth without any hurdles, surely you are in wrong lane”. Well, I had the appointment between 1:30pm – 2:15pm at Passport Seva Kendra, Lalbagh road, Bangalore. Reached the premises and got inside the building at 1:00pm upon showing the acknowledgment print out of the appointment. Had to stand in the queue here too to get a token for visiting processing, verification and issual counters. The queue wasn’t moving at all. After an hour one of the official came out and said the servers are down and it may take a while. Later on got to know that the servers were down since 11:30am! Thanks to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) who have partnered with ministry of external affairs, India to empower the IT systems/infrastructure and to maintain these PSK kiosks.
Again at 2:30pm, one elderly official came to announce that they will switch over to manual mode of passport processing since the servers haven’t been restored and they are not in a position to retrieve the forms that applicants had submitted online. They decided to process those who had filled in forms in hand which weren’t submitted online. Online applicants were told to BUY form (which costs Rs. 10/-) and fill it up, ensure to have passport size photos, then head over to processing counters to get the work done. A fool in me, relying too much on computers had gone there without photos. I had 2 options : Either get the photos and fill up the form all over again manually or visit again some other day hoping to be lucky by then. Since there was a huge crowd and had to attend to work decided for the latter option.
So, this is what I learnt from todays experience:
1. Don’t rely on computer systems at government offices YET!
2. Always carry photographs no matter what whenever you need to fill a form related to govt offices.
3. Carry a pen in the pocket whenever you are out (my parents still shout at me for not complying to this since my college days, there is a bigger story on why don’t like to keep one… may be sometime later!)
4. Expect not to get the work done through govt offices as per the schedule.
Thanks for reading, hope you will not repeat what I did and may you have all the luck to get the “God’s work” done on time, as mentioned in the book! Remember, there is an engraved quote on the Vidhana Soudha – “Government Work is God’s Work”… YES! I understand that now in a better way.