Today, I had an appointment at the passport office for document verification at 10.30 in the morning. To be honest, I was worried, not because I had any problem in any of the documents, but because the thought of visiting a government office makes me nauseatic.
Have you ever visited a Government office, where you spent hours rushing from one counter to other, facing people at every stage who don't give the tiniest bit of importance to your existence, and you felt like you are in a totally different hostile country altogether? If yes, then you know exactly what I'm talking about here.
But today was something different. Although the reporting time was 10:30, I reached the place by 10, just in case. I was expecting hour long queues and chaos, but to my surprise, it was not that way. There was a queue, but there were hardly 10 people in it. After about 10 minutes of reaching, the security guard, who stood by the entry gate, called upon every one who had the reporting time of 10:30. He looked at our documents at a glance, did the physical security checks and we were in. It was still 10:20 on my watch. I went inside, where there were multiple counters. I stood in one of those. When my turn came, the lady at the counter took all my zeroxed documents and attached them to a file along with the application form. She gave me a form which had a token number on it. I was unsure about what to do next, but a helpful voice again called me and guided me towards the next room.
The next room was a large air conditioned hall, with a canteen, a zerox machine and many such convenience stuff. More importantly, it had three large LCD displays which displayed a table of token numbers and their corresponding counter locations. I sat there for around 10 minutes when I saw "N150 - A7" on the screen. I got up and went to the A7 counter. A lady there read all my documents and asked me to zerox a few more things. I did as she said. Then she captured my photograph, took my finger and thumb prints, and asked me to go ahead. All in all, the entire main hall and 'A' section took 30 minutes.
Next up, I was in a waiting room with other people, where there were the same monitors. Here I had to wait around 15 minutes before I saw "N150 - B3". On this 'B' counter, a lady verified every detail line by line, going through each minor issue. After this, she returned my documents and told me to wait for the third counter. I went into the same room as that earlier and waited for the next call. Somewhere around 15 minutes later, I saw "N150 - C7" on the screen. Here, I was greeted by a very pleasant man, who smiled as I entered. He looked at the documents, doing some typing at the same time. After about 30 seconds, he kept the folder, returned me my originals, and said, "You're done here. Submit the token, and then you may leave". I smiled and gathered my originals, giving way to the next guy standing behind me. I checked my watch. It was 11:15. I returned the token slip, and went towards the exit. A very polite guard asked me to fill the feedback form, which had all sorts of questions. It should not be surprising that they deserved an 'excellent' in almost all questions. I then left the premises, got into a rickshaw and went home, with a totally changed mindset for Government offices. Oh boy, I wish all government offices were like that.
Summarizing my experiences, the entire process was smooth as silk. It was because of the excellent management of the people who worked there. They deserve the entire credits. Not a single person looked like he/she was forced to work there, something you often see in such places (My personal experience with SBI bank). Everyone made me feel good, and my work important. I was treated nicely, even though I didn't get down from a VIP car at their premises, or had a call from a bureaucrat beforehand. The entire process was way better then what I could have ever imagined.
Lastly, a big thank you on behalf of me and the thousands others who visit these Passport Seva Kendra all over the nation with dreams in their minds. While I was sitting in the initial hall, I noticed a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, that hung down a large poster. I couldn't photograph it since it was prohibited, but this was the exact quote. I am happy that they didn't just put it, but were following it on every step. Thank you!
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”