Bright spot in the bureaucracy : The Tribune India

Bright spot in the bureaucracy

Bright spot in the bureaucracy

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo

Lt Gen Harwant Singh (retd)

DEALING with a government department can be a harrowing experience. My NRI son’s Indian driving licence was due for renewal. It was issued 15 years earlier by the licensing authority in New Delhi. It was submitted for renewal at the local office, which made enquiries at the Delhi office. Subsequently, I was told that the licence was issued when he was underage; he would have to get a learner’s licence first and could apply six months later for a regular one. I pointed out that the date of issuance of the licence and his age recorded in his passport could be checked to confirm that he was not underage at that time. I was told that such a verification was not carried out by their office.

Sometime later, my son sent his power of attorney in my name. I presented it to the young Finance Secretary, who was busy chatting with friends. He called his superintendent to find out if the power of attorney was in order. The superintendent said the power of attorney did not bear the names and signatures of witnesses. I explained that no witnesses were required as the embassy ascertained the identity of the one giving the power of attorney from his passport. This argument cut no ice with the officer.

I had another encounter with the authorities courtesy of three silver oak trees, which had grown disproportionately large and could, in the event of a storm, cause damage to surrounding houses and their occupants. While these were still small, a case was taken up with the administration for their removal. This request had become a yearly ritual, spread over eight years. Even as no action was taken, these trees grew bigger and bigger, posing an ever-increasing threat to life and property. I also contacted officers of the Forest Department and the executive engineers concerned, yet nothing happened.

As the last resort, I decided to meet the Municipal Commissioner. I took with me a copy of my last letter on the subject. In this letter, I had talked about the efforts made by me over the years to get these trees removed. I had also wondered with irony that if this was the way a request from a ‘super senior citizen’, who had held high posts in the military, was dealt with, what must be the fate of requests from ‘less fortunate’ citizens. The officer explained the procedure in dealing with such cases. I pointed out that whatever might be the procedure, it should not take years to take a decision. I finally said: ‘If these trees are not to be cut, I should be informed so that I can tell my neighbours to increase their house and life insurance cover.’

About an hour later, I reached home to find that the staffers deputed to fell the trees had arrived. I realised that all was not lost as there was a bright spot in the bureaucracy.

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