Saturday, March 19, 2005

Signatures, signatures

It's sometimes aaid that India learned -- even embraced -- bureaucracy under British rule. Now and again, you see evidence that this is true.

Today, I went to get a mobile phone for my wife, Diane, who will be joining me here in April.

I had to sign the application I was given in seven different places, including the passport-sized picture I was required to affix to the form.

My signatures included a section in which I declared that my income came from agriculture (I pointed this out, but they said sign it anyway. So I did).

I also had to provide:

-- A photocopy of my passport details page. I had to sign this and the signature had to match that on the nearly 10-year-old passport. The folks at the mobile phone office were surprised to hear that U.S. passports don't give your home address (which indicates that that's the case in India).

-- A photocopy of my New York state driver's license (Signed that, too).

-- A photocopy of my lease to confirm my address (Signed it).

-- A photocopy of my Indian visa, which is inside my passport (Signed that).

The visa photocopy caused a little excitement because it is due to expire on March 22. The young man checking my bona fides even took it into the manager's office (I could imagine him telling the manager, "Boss, we caught an illegal alien!").

Luckily, I had my passport with me and was able to show them the visa extension which is good until next fall. Whew.

To be fair, I would not be surprised to be asked to provide proof of address in the United States or Britain. But the total number of forms, photocopies, etc. was like nothing I've ever encountered before in getting a mobile.

The phone company says the government requires them to obtain this information.

And I did not encounter the worst part of any bureaucracy: being forced to wait a long time to get what I wanted or having to apply again. I got the SIM card for Diane's phone then and there.


At 3:46 AM, Blogger SUM said...

Bureaucracy.. its a way of life in India, an irritating system sometimes. A cogwheel of the slow moving but very large indian elephant styled system, can't be changed overnight.

But as we say in bangalore in kannada: "solpa adjust madi" ( meaning kindly adjust a bit to it).

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Bear said...

well, While for a foreigner, it does seem to be a lot of papers, for localites it's a lot less now.

Have a Driving License? Passport or PAN+Address Proof - Electricity/Telephone/Water bill or Ration Card or Election Id.

Any one of these above will do. I think perhaps the guy at the counter wasnt familiar with procedures for Aliens(legal or otherwise!)

I have travelled a bit across cities, and I have found getting a mobile connection, easy.

Signatures, Signatures? that applies to the Passport guys. 7 photographs. 10 Signatures, Triplicate forms. and an additional postcard thingy with that. I used to call them 'autograph hunters'. ;-)

At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

while there is no excuse for bureaucracy, i beleive they want to trace the cell phones in case there are bombings triggered by cell phones.

in usa, with the credit cards and so many other id's like drivers license it is easy to trace a cell phone to its owner.


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