When it comes to any government department or establishment ineffectiveness, capabilities, delay and so on, we are always the first to criticise them and file complaints. But when a government department functions very promptly, effectively, expeditiously without any hassle to the people, then we forget to highlight such positive aspects. I am referring to the services under the “e-passport seva” of the External Affairs Ministry where the application for a fresh passport, renewal and other formalities have become very simple and easy. Above all, the duration taken to deliver the passport has been shortened to a few days or weeks.
After applying for the renewal of my passport online, I received an appointment for 26th May at the Thane passport office. I started receiving reminders by SMSs and emails about the appointment schedule. A couple of minutes before the appointment time, I was let inside the passport office and after preliminary checking of documents a token number was issued to me. And I was guided to an official for capturing photograph and biometrics which was completed within five minutes. Later, I was asked to wait in the documents verifications section as I waited for my turn as per the token number. The procedure was done twice, one preliminary followed by the final stage. After the verification of documents, I received an e-acknowledgement and was asked to fill the feedback form. The entire procedure took only two hours.
While I was seated inside the passport office and completing one formality after the other, I kept receiving SMSs instantly, saying “Thanks for opting for Passport Seva SMS services. You will receive updates on your file through SMS. I could also track the status of my application. Thereafter, I received further updates pertaining to the printing of my passport and one more after it was dispatched. My passport was delivered on 30th May through speed post just within five days after my appointment.
You may say that the procedure was expedited since it was renewal of my passport. However, the passport authorities’ efforts must be lauded for their improved efficiency. I doubt whether any corporate would ever match the kind of efficiency, communications and SMS culture provided by this government department. Above all, the staff and officers were very cooperative and cheerful too. Think of the old days when people used to worry while visiting the passport offices and facing those officials for obvious reasons. Earlier it used to take four to six months for the delivery of a passport.
I wish all the government departments work in such a professional manner, maintain communication culture, ensure dedication and efficiency in fulfilling their assignments. There would be no bureaucracy but single or at the most double-window clearances for many requirements, which would make citizens’ lives easier.