Education brings with it many evils. One is to think you should be a responsible citizen.
Facing with a situation where all the passports were due for renewals, I had the following options: Negotiate with an agent to have them renewed without going to the passport office at Bhikaji Cama Place or go there myself and submit my form and of folks. I, unfortunately, chose the latter.
I printed forms from the website of the passport office. I filled, double checked the forms and compiled all the annexes.
Reached Passport office and first job was to secure stamping on the forms for the token numbers. Reaching inside the office, I felt extremely relaxed seeing 9 counters dealing with people and electronic display board showing the different token numbers at each counter.
However, this relaxation was very short-lived. I soon realised that the token numbers were the device to make people spend hours unnecessarily. Over ten token numbers were called at each counter to make sure there is a constant long line. Anyway, after a considerable length of time, I managed to reach a counter and, by mistake, requested the person to take all the forms but he refused citing the “token system” rule.
That the token system is a sham became clearer when the official was accepting forms after forms from a person coming to his counter from behind rather than the people standing in front of him. One kind official appeared to be working in US Embassy as the way he was checking the forms for any error. When he could not find one in my forms, he told me that since I have printed the forms from web, he cannot accept them and asked me to buy them. I requested him and his superior–whose job was more or less to go to counters and press the token buzzer, to look at the forms. However, both of them told me the forms are invalid.
Upon my repeated request to write on the forms that they were invalid, the officials refused saying that he cannot write that but can refuse the forms on that reason. Later on, he also told me not to read too much information on the website of the passport office since things are not correct there.
Anyway, just about when it was close to 4 pm and the office was about to shut, the official wanted one photocopy of a particular page. I went out of the office to found that the sole copier leaves at lunch time. I told it to the official and he asked me to go few kms away and find another. Just then, one security guard, finding me a familiar face since seeing me from the morning, offered to held and got the copy done from the first floor of the office. This help was unconditional and I thought this guard was odd one amongst others and should find a better job.
The forms are filed, the receipts are with me the wait begins when the new passports shall be with us.
I was not surprised when Rajdeep Sardesai in his Open Letter to Kalmadi mentioned about the state of the Passport Office http://ibnlive.in.com/blogs/rajdeepsardesai/1/62027/rajdeep-sardesais-open-letter-to-suresh-kalmadi.html?from=tn
Word of advice, when your passport is up for renewal or getting a fresh one, please do not try to be a responsible citizen and go to the office trying to file the forms yourself. Get an agent to do because this is what the Govt wants us to do.
God bless us.