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Monday, February 4, 2002
Lead Article

The errand boy called Net

There is more to the Internet than fun and games. Kuljit Bains details various services that help you out with routine tasks.

YOU didn’t think you’d need a computer or, even less, an Internet connection. Pressure—social, peer, from children (let’s admit it, from everywhere)—has, however, made you succumb and you now have a machine, costing money that you’d have much rather spent on that AC. Well, let’s not mope and look at it positively. This computer with an Internet connection is not something for ‘frivolous’ activities like chat, music, e-mail and a few unmentionable ones alone.

Through the Internet you can get some real practical work done that could help you stay at home for better things instead of going out in the cold, sun or rain. Various services like payment of bills, collecting applications forms, etc, can be received through the Net as well as queries made on things like results, bookings or passports. We’ll run through a host of such conveniences that might show you that a PC was not a bad investment after all, your practical approach notwithstanding. The list, of course, will not be exhaustive—your imagination, ingenuity and continuous development in the field make it infinite.


Phone directory

Begin with the most mundane and yet the most often required: telephone numbers, along with addresses. Your good old print directory did that, too, but the Net does it one better. You can have access to the latest updates and more than just your city. http://www.chandigarhtelecom.com is the site for the directory for Chandigarh circle. The has not phone numbers alone, but also all kinds of BSNL application forms, information on rules, etc, that makes it a virtual enquiry desk on telecom. At http://www.teldir.com/eng/asia/in you will find links to directories of various Indian states and cities and at http://www.teldir.com/eng to cities of the world.


Anyone who has made an enquiry at a Railways counter will pay anything to be spared a few pushes and tugs. While one may not expect much from a government endeavour, the no-frills site of our Indian Railways may amaze you. While at present there is no Internet reservation facility offered, http://www.indianrail.gov.in provides you a journey planner wherein you can get the list of trains running between any two stations, get the seat availability position, fare information and the updated PNR (your reservation reference) status information. However, to give a sarkari touch, the query services are open only from 8 am (IST) to 8 pm on weekdays (till 2 pm on Sundays). Also available are all rules and regulations regarding bookings and travel. The site will also provide additional tourist information and timetables.


This is a field that would naturally attract the most attention of the new technology. Income tax, insurance, shares, banking, all these services are available at the click of a mouse. http://www.sharekhan.com and http://www.indiabulls.com are two typical sites for share trading, though there are plenty more if you search for them on any search engine. By registering with them you gain access to real-time quotes, round-the-clock news, technical and fundamental analyses, key recommendations, research reports, corporate documents, trading tools, message boards, etc. You can buy and sell shares, untouched by human hand and, the most essential, log in from anywhere in the world, so you are never out of the loop. E-broking has also overcome the infrastructural problems that dogged the conventional broking system.

Income tax rules may fox even a fox, and we are mere humans. http://incometaxdelhi.nic.in is an official site, while there plenty of private sites like http://www.taxnyou.com that will give you all the rules in detail and solve most problems. You can download all imaginable forms and on certain enterprising sites like http://finance.indiatimes.com also calculate your return by just putting in the figures. This Indiatimes site and a few others also sell insurance and handle bill payments in certain cities.

In the field of banking most private banks (www.bankofpunjab.com, www.icici.com, www.hdfcbank.com) have taken the lead. You can find out online your account status; in some cases make bill payments for mobile phones, credit cards or electricity; shop; order drafts; and get rules, applications forms, or information on services and loans offered by respective banks.


This is a field that is yet catching on in India, but cannot be ignored for it is much spread in the West and is sure to here also as expendable incomes and use of plastic money rise. In Chandigarh, http://www.glidemart.com and at national the level sites like www.fabmart.com or http://www.indiashoppingmall.com or those of portals like www.sify.com and www.rediff.com are making a beginning. Most of them offer household gadgets as well as groceries and music. Certain international sites like http://www.epinions.com or http://www.nextag.com can help you research on prices for hundreds of items and models in the world market and also tell you who is selling the cheapest online. Of course, if you import you are liable to pay custom duties.


http://passport.nic.in is the official site that offers all related passport and visa division forms in PDF format. Also available are rules and guidance on the subject. The Regional Passport Office, Delhi, even tells you the status of your application if you submit your file reference number. There is a missions page that offers links to the various Indian missions abroad, where you can get application forms for a PIO (persons of Indian origin) card and other consulate information.


This is the original filed for which the Internet was built. While in India business has far exceeded education in terns of information technology, it’s not that bad either. http://www.egurucool.com is probably the first that comes to mind when you talk education in India. Results, date sheets, past question papers, sample papers, simulated tests, career guidance, lesson plans, information on schools and institutions, all are found here. Similar is http://www.educationinfoindia.com and there are a few others if make a search. www.education.nic.in is the official site of the Centre that gives details on national education policies, schemes, scholarships, statistics and also malpractice alerts.

www.cbseindia.org is for results, teachers, and official notifications of the board.

A very handy tool for students, the Internet offers them help in various ways. Homework help is one. While there are many sites for that, http://home.about.com/homework is fairly extensive and reliable for middle and higher-level school students.


For travel and holiday you want prior information on places that are distant and unknown. The Internet is just the thing for that. Sites like www.traveljini.com www.shubhyatra.com, htttp://yatraindia.com or www.tourismindia.com put up information on destinations, travel and stay arrangements, theme holidays, honeymoon plans as well as offer holiday packages and advance bookings. www.mapsofindia.com is a related site that offers maps of various parts of India as also road and rail routes and distances that can be a great help in planning a movement.

Government information

The foremost point to begin locating any of the various government sites is www.nic.in. There are links here to all ministries and departments of the Central government as well as links to various state government sites. This can also be a mine for task forces/councils reports, budgets, rules and regulations and policies of the government.

www.chandigarh.nic.in is the Chandigarh Administration site that gives all kinds of application forms for purposes from marriage registration to vehicle registration. You get information on various policies of the administration too. One very useful page is "Estate Office information book," which gives you step-by-step guidance on how to proceed about functions like getting a house approved. The Punjab Government site http://punjabgovt.nic.in may not serve much practical purpose, but it does give information on various departments and ministries as well as phone numbers of officials (http://punjabgovt.nic.in/government/ govt78.htm). However, there is data on employment opportunities, etc. The official site for Haryana is http://haryana.nic.in.

Though not relevant in the North, the site of BEST (the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking) of Mumbai is an example of how a customer can be served through the Net. The site lets a power consumer check the status of his bill, get application forms, find bus routes, etc.


The most obvious purpose of the Net is information, and that’s what reference material is. The site www.howstuffworks.com can tell you about the working of almost every conceivable device or technical concept; www.britannica.com and http://encarta.msn.com are two of the best-known encyclopaedia sites, featuring abridged reference articles, world atlas, quizzes, homework help, college prep, and more; reference links can also be looked for on Web directories like www.yahoo.com. www.dictionary.com is a good site for what the name suggests. Search and you will find good sites on medicine for layman, history, or any other subject for that matter.


Finding jobs on the Net is what any computer-savvy youngster does first. www.naukri.com, www.jobsahead.com, www.monsterindia.com, www.careersindia. com are a few good sites for India where you can post resumes, search data base of jobs posted by companies, get career guidance, and help on resume writing. http://www.jobspoint.com also gives ads that have appeared in papers and interview dates for various jobs. What better than getting a job through the Net?

You can also use the Net to send your resume directly to companies the world over.

People find

A utility that is provided by most e-mail sites is searching e-mail addresses from just the name. Apart from e-mail IDs, people in the USA can be searched for on many sites like http://people.yahoo.com because the USA has good databases. While most searches are basic, some paid services find a person’s address, phone numbers as well as do a social check on them. Generally, for an e-mail search, first and last name should suffice if you try a few e-mail service providers.

Yellow pages

If you want find a business or a service provider like a hardware store in a particular city, http://www.indiayellowpagesnet.com, http://www.indiayellowpages.com, http://www.chandigarhcityline.com, http://www.indiayellowpagesonline.com, or other such sites can be handy. http://www.indiareference.com does a search on various cities by categories and is also good for Chandigarh.

While all these services at an arm’s length may leave you the free time you needed for your workouts, you cannot discount the fun utilities of the Net like entertainment or sports results (www.khel.com, www.crickinfo.com or www.thatscricket.com). Other uses, like getting news or various communication facilities like e-mail, chat, Web cam, etc, are what you bought the computer for in the first place, isn’t it?