Thoughts & Ideas

Monday, May 04, 2015

Experience at an RTO

A little over 10 years ago I was posted in Hyderabad and needed to renew my driving license. Dreading the idea of visiting the RTO office and facing touts and paying money under the table – something my middle-class holier-than-thou attitude to life repelled from – I was in a dilemma as to what to do. But then the same middle-class holier-than-thou attitude made it easy to decide that a little bit of help through personal influence would not despoil my dharma. I, therefore, approached a close friend for help, who incidentally was in the IAS, and under whose jurisdiction the local RTO office fell.

This friend nonchalantly advised me to visit the RTO office in Somajiguda to get my work done and also gave me the name of the official I should contact if I faced any problem. I accordingly visited the office and was greeted by the usual touts at the gates. Feeling secure in the knowledge of my close acquaintance with an IAS officer I directly proceeded to the person whose reference I had been given.  This person met me very civilly and directed me to the main office. I had half expected to sit in the gentlemen’s office while my work would be done and so I was a little miffed.

Having no other option, I went to the counters and surprise of surprises – got my license renewed with no under the table payments or any other hassles. This included filling up the forms, making the payment, getting my photograph taken, and signing. The new driving licence was printed (with my photo and scanned copy of my signature), laminated, and handed over to me in about 30 minutes. My existing driving license which had been issued nearly 10 years ago in Chapra (Bihar), was in absolute tatters and could barely be recognized as an official document.

A couple of days later I met this friend of mine to whom I narrated my happy experience. My friend smiled and told me something which was a lesson in life itself. In his opinion the main reason for fall in quality of government  services is because we middle class people with ability to pull strings or pay for touts do so for getting our work done, leaving the bottom one-third of our citizenship in deep despair. The only way if we aspire for improvement in quality of governance, is to actually participate in the process and raise our voices if we find anything amiss. I could not agree more with him.

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