The other day I told you about my passport woes and the impossible task of getting an online appointment to apply for a passport. 5 days ago I read that the Passport Office in Vizag was having an “open day” – anybody could walk in and apply without needing an appointment. The Vizag office serves a few other districts like Godavari, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam. This morning I opened the paper and couldn’t stop laughing – they had Royally screwed themselves.
Whether it was stupidity or naivety the guys at the Passport Office got it seriously wrong. The report says that they expected 2000 people to show up when in fact thousands more did. People came from faraway places and camped outside the building overnight to secure their spot in line. When the gates opened, the crowd surged in to the passport office and the officials were apparently “jittery”. They called in the Police for back up. Our great Indian police tactic of “lathi charging” which translates to beating the crap out of anyone in a crowd with a wooden stick (police issue I’m sure), caused many injuries to innocent people who were just trying to secure what was promised to them. It is reported that many women fell to the ground and were crushed in the stampede and a young girl sustained a head injury from a police baton. It is to be expected that in India no investigation in to police conduct will take place. The newspaper rightly reports that “The desperation of the applicants is…an indication of the failure of the online booking system.” .
The desperation of the people that caused the stampede and the inability of the police to maintain calm shows that despite thousands of years of civilization, this is all that we have show for it. Our best years are way behind us, in the age of the Harrappa and Indus Valley Civilization.
Be it waste disposal, transport infrastructure, urban planning, or an online booking system everything in India breaks down because there are too many people in this country and just not enough public services to go around. We are at least 15 years behind in everything we do. To that add a dose of stupidity and laziness and you’ve got a heady mix of inefficiency. But no one in the public domain talks about the burden of population on our infrastructure and public services. In India if 100 people die in a flood or earthquake that’s nothing to be alarmed about. You need thousands to die before it’s noteworthy. Our infrastructure will always be playing catch up as long as no one comes up with a way to put the brakes on our population that is hurtling out of control.
When a group of Indians get together we are good for only 4 things – voting, rioting, bribing and reproducing. We might have produced Aryabhatta and C.V Raman but when it comes to the Indian masses we excel at these 4 things. We even excel at making our philistine deportment sound better than what it is: voting is democracy and not the gheraoing of villagers by political party sponsored buses to vote for the party or else; rioting is demonstrating and exercising ones civil liberties; bribing is merely oiling the machinery and incidentally for it to work in your favour; and reproducing is our god given right and the more people there are indebted there to my party the more votes I get.
In the end I do feel bad for the thousands who spent hard earned money to travel all the way to Vizag only to be let down and literally trampled by the system. This week this same Passport Office will be gaily celebrating Diwali and handing out sweets to each other hoping that the big bangs of toxic Sulphur laden fire crackers will drown out the memory of the bollocking they nearly got from the public. Whoever brought the idea of an “open-day” to the Monday morning meeting should not be getting a Diwali bonus this year but I guarantee he/she/they will face no repercussions for their ill-conceived “plan”. Meanwhile the higher powers who control the system will continue on as usual. Despite the rioting and trampling and lathi charging, the bureaucratic behemoth always goes back to the way it was. The status quo is sacrosanct.
In – di- ya Zindabad!