Friday, March 21, 2008

Indian government offices abroad any better?

I’m sure many expats from India will agree to this. The Indian consulates & missions are a reflection of the inefficient government offices in India. Babus will be babus. The same indifferent attitude, lack of professionalism & general carelessness is on display all throughout the world.

One of my friends in the US had to get his passport renewed. This, according to the consulate in NY, is a simple 2-3 business day’s affair if all the paper work is in order. That claim not withstanding, it took 5 weeks to get a new passport for himself. There was no system of tracking the progress at all. Worse yet, you can’t even get a hold of any person to talk to. Sure, they do have a phone number, but when you call there, you have recorded voices directing you to choose appropriate options. When you do choose the right option, a recorded voice tells you to not call them before its 4 weeks & even if it’s an emergency you should leave a voice message! No person to talk to. This seems to have changed recently. Another of my friends tells me, he could talk to a person, but there’s a catch here. You can only talk to a person between 02:00 to 04:00 pm on working days. And you have to be lucky.

In a different incident, relatives of another of my friends were visiting the US. Unfortunately they lost their passports while on a trip. The next thing they naturally did was to get in touch of the Indian consulate & the nearest one was in NY. On telling the babus of what had happened to them, they got the most absurd answers back. The babu there told them, they had to go back to India & follow the necessary process since their original passports were issues there! How could one travel back to their home country without their passports & visas?

The people working at our consulates seem to be the same babus imported from back home. It is quite clear from their attitude towards work & their English. When you call the NY consulate, you’ll be greeted with a voice telling you about the consulate & the recent outsourcing of it’s visa processing to a firm called travisa. The voice & accent are undeniably Indian. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a good thing, but it is fast & hard to understand. It would save a lot of trouble if they had someone who could speak clearly & it doesn’t have to be a non-Indian.

With such unprofessional attitude is it surprising then that some Indians overseas are upset with the lack of support they get abroad?

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