Passport Offices can do with some Employee Management

When you enter the passport office in Delhi, it is much unlike any other government building. Good architecture, bulky authoritative look, and entrance mostly teaming with parked vehicles.

The one distinct feature is that right from the guard to the people sitting inside the offices, everyone treats the applicants like cattle. And no, this is not a judgment.

See this: A lady with a letter of passport appointment enters the lobby. As she moves towards the door, the guard checks her appointment letter and voila, she has come before time. This makes her ineligible to enter the office. Here’s what she experiences next-

Opposite the entry gate is a small lobby with a sitting space for approximately 10 people. Looking at the crowd at any point in time, a passport office has atleast 50 people who need to be accommodated in the lobby. So the rest of the soles just make themselves comfortable by sitting on the floor. Some find a space on the stairs, at the onus of excusing 5 people every 10 minutes. Others try to find a space outside the office, with shade. The good thing with old government buildings is that there is a high probability that there will be a lot of trees around it. However, this does not hold true in case of this office (let me know if there are some better ones). A handful of passport consultancy shops surround the passport office. Most of these are temporary structures, big enough to man just 3 people and a couple of computers. A couple of permanent shops approximately double the size of the temporary structures, are run by egotistic owners who speak fluent passport language. The printouts cost INR 40 in the closest shed and the price reduces to INR 30 as you move a little farther. These small temporary structures promise to get most of your affidavits and annexures made. This ensures that atleast those visiting the passport office in Delhi, do not have to wander around finding the place which will make the documents Government wants.

Pareto’s Principle

Pareto’s 80/20 principle applies perfectly here, where apparently only 20% people are genuinely handling their roles to make the process possible. Others even go to the extent to making things difficult.

Don’t even try to talk with frustration in your voice. The people working in and around the building see hundreds of applicants everyday. So any apathy you experience is because they simply don’t give it a damn. What if the passport office website, never mentions that how to get the Affidavits made, unless you specifically dig into it, 5 levels deep, to end up in a pdf document, in which you might as well disappear. What if the website never mentions the application printout as the must have documents for getting you started with the process.

That’s to no one’s fault!

While approaching the passport office, I felt like I was about to get into an examination hall. The entire anticipation was about whether or not I will get through. And amazingly in this case, I could never be too sure.

Get some reputation management

So here’s what I have on mind. What if these government officials too were conscious of online reputation management? Atleast I could tweet them to ensure speedy response.

What if they had their lessons on Customer management, considering that it will only reduce the repeat visitors, making their work easier?

Why can the website not be created seamlessly, to ensure the ease of usability?

Why doesn’t the website and public offices monitor the user experience and amend it’s operations (in this case it has been outsourced to TCS, but that doesn’t in any way improve on the quality of service) based on performance?

Plain old employee management

If those people there knew they would be judged on efficiency, they would act smarter. If their incentives were dependent on reducing the time per successful application, they would find out ways to resolve the issues faster. If there was someone to check repeated mistake by the applicants, proper instructions could be used in the mails preceding the appointment. If someone cared to find out why educated people looking for passport miss on some vital documents every time, the answer might be in the usability of the process to find out exactly how to get those documents. Instead of small adjoining shops flourishing on passport advisory, it might be wiser to have a tollfree number to get the issues of the citizens sorted.

In the place where there is so much dissatisfaction and frustration, it easily gets on the people working there as well. A regularization of process with the intent of reducing stress could be a miracle medicine for the passport offices. Till the day that happens, I will know that getting a passport is an ordeal, that shakes an entire faith in the efficiency of government systems, and leaves an indelible mark.

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Fizzling of a dream: and Resurrection

Accepting Responsibility

The reason writing is more difficult than reading is because we don’t care to think too much about what we read. Or even worse, as is in my case, thinking about what we read, drawing the understanding, facing some contradictions to the long-held beliefs, but not putting enough effort to consciously imbibe the lessons. It is easier to leave the strongly held thoughts or absence of thoughts unchallenged, than to let a new light stay long enough to question everything.

Our insecurities force us to remain in the safe, non-thinking zone. I confess giving in to this line of thought and resolve to consciously overcome it.

Thinking exerts a lot of self-contradictions and requires the willingness to face counterintuitive ideas to form an independent and logical conclusion, every time. It is important to choose to think. Left to itself, mind will nevertheless think. Being conscious of the thread of thoughts creates space for taking responsibility of those thoughts and makes one capable of owning oneself. Understanding what we experience, either in the form of reading or simply being, requires going that extra mile to force oneself to sit and ponder.

If I may take it to the next level, these thoughts make coherent sense when we decide to involving all our senses to experience them. This means that the entire thought process needs to be pondered over and written down. Writing down ensures that we re-read the thoughts and eliminate prejudices and egotism, as we develop an understanding around its validity. It also ensures that we consciously, without being politic, take complete responsibility of what we think. Writing it down and sharing with an audience, takes it a level higher, where we fearlessly leave our thoughts to be challenged.

This is exactly why when I decided to create 100 Writing Days, and could take it only so far as 11 days, I justified it to myself; but chose not to accept that justification in writing, thereby leaving it susceptible to question.

 

After much deliberation and postponement, at this point, where I am unable to pick another fine written word, without committing myself to writing about as many things as possible, the first thing I am doing with this piece, is taking responsibility of the cause I failed. But I resolve to take it up once again.

 

Taking a different Approach

So here is what I am doing this time; I am defining my audience.

I made some amazing friends in college. I have decided that they shall be my audience. I realize that when they are my audience, I am able to write. I can think with them and communicate my sentiments. I can feel their arguments and I can imagine myself providing responses as suited; just what I fail to do when I am left to myself.

To those amazing friends, I am not sure you will reach here. If you do, I am not sure if I will make sense to you. But while I write, I imagine that we are having these conversations in those coffee shops; just like the old times. That version of you is listening and arguing and making counter proposals to me as I try to approach my thought. That thrill of conversation shall enable this blog.

To you, my dear reader, while eventually I shall fizzle away, till that time, I ask you to be a part of these conversations.

To all those days in college, to all those hours spent in trying to un-spun myself, to all those awkward lonely alone times, when I failed to find a sense of being, I commit to write. I commit to force myself to question what I read and present what my plausible view is, open to arguments and questioning.

 

While I am not writing, I shall keep reading. For those are the thoughts, someone else has left open to challenge. The conversation needs to be alive, in the mutual effort to make sense of things, thereby trying to make a change in ways we perceive and respond to life, hopefully making life more livable in the process.