‘Smart’ Indian inefficiency

Posted by on December 26, 2015 in Miscellaneaous jottings | 0 comments

What I write about here is nothing new. Every ordinary Indian goes through such experiences. They are part of the trials and tribulations of a commoner’s daily life, as integral to it as the dust and the pollution on the roads. You may feel impatient, irritated or even angry. Or you may quietly accept it as your fate. Yet there are aspects of life that needs to be documented and recorded by many in the hope that finally, some day in the distant future, change will come. Hence this attempt.

pen and coloured pencil sketch

On the 24th of this month I was entrusted by my maternal uncle to post three invitation cards of his son’s wedding. One of the addressees resides in Calcutta while two others live in Siliguri. I went to the local office of the DTDC, a reputed courier service. The proprietor of the branch, who knows me well, advised me to send the cards meant for Siliguri through the Speed Post Service offered by Government of India’s Postal Department. The Siliguri addresses did not bear house numbers. Indians do know that houses beyond the major cities do not have house numbers. The proprietor obviously thought that the local post offices would be better equipped to deliver such letters more efficiently and to the right address. He must have worried that the cards would not reach their destinations if sent through DTDC. The proprietor accepted the other card that had a Calcutta address. I went to the nearest post office to send those other two cards by speed post. I found the post office closed. It was a holiday.

Next, I went to Bank of India’s Garia branch to deposit a cheque, to get the signature and seal of a bank staff on a ‘signature verification form’, to enquire about a debit card I had applied for three months ago (yes, three clear months have elapsed and I have not yet received it yet!) and to update my pass book. I deposited the cheque in the drop box and then approached a desk for the verification of my signature. The woman there was talking over phone in Oriya. I stood there about ten minutes but the person at the desk didn’t appear to notice me. I watched while she was joined by a few of her colleagues. No one asked me why I, a customer of that bank, was standing at that counter.

I approached another desk and was told that the ‘link’ is not available and that their computers are not working. So they can’t verify my signature. I asked about the debit card. The lady manning the desk went back, searched a few drawers and told me, “We haven’t received your card yet!” Her boss, another woman, was standing nearby. She said to her, “When it hasn’t come, it hasn’t come! Why don’t you tell him it hasn’t reached our office?” I stood there dumbfounded.

pen and coloured pencil sketch

Then I tried to use a machine installed for automatic update of passbooks, but that too didn’t work probably because of the same ‘link failure’. I returned home and using my own computer exercised my choice of using another bank (this time I didn’t make the mistake of selecting a nationalized bank) for the credit of my dividend cheques.

Two days later, this morning I went to the post office again. I found that the computers at the post office were not working either. The two invitation cards couldn’t be sent using Speed Post. Now I will have to find a way to send these letters over these 600 odd kilometres!

That is how things work (or do not work) here. Do you propose to invest in India and in its ‘smart’ cities? Are you thinking of setting up a business here? If you have accidentally come across this post, think again! Assess the difficulty of accomplishing even simple tasks on this soil here. That would be a wise thing to do before embarking on an adventure!

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