Colours of Life
My Tryst with Passport
Passport Seva Laghu Kendra, Gangtok
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Next day we reached Passport Seva Laghu Kendra (PSLK) at appointed time with all the necessary original documents along with self-attested copies though only one of each was needed as proof for the address and date of birth. Passport Seva provided by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India is with the Vision in words of the minister Sushma Swaraj, To deliver passport services to citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner and in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained and motivated workforce. To complement the Passport Seva we have in the application form a Self-Declaration to be agreed which read I owe allegiance to the sovereignty, unity & integrity of India, and have not voluntarily acquired citizenship or travel document of any other country. I have not lost, surrendered or been deprived of the citizenship of India and I affirm that the information given by me in this form and the enclosures is true and I solely responsible for its accuracy, and I am liable to be penalized or prosecuted if found otherwise. I am aware that under the Passport Act, 1967 it is a criminal offence to furnish any false information or to suppress any material information with a view to obtaining passport or travel document.
Just after the PSLK was started functioning here after its inauguration on 25th May, there was the news of some harassment about submission of documents alleging that the official demanding more than one and different documents. This was later clarified through a press release to have been done by the person mischievously to malign the newly started establishment here. We have, otherwise, found the staff members all smiling, courteous and co-operative and in this cordial environment did not feel the need to have a separate counter for the senior citizens usually found in some establishments these days. As per rules the seniors are allowed straightway without the need of to get in the queue for the appointment. While filling the online application form for the renewal of our passports latest house number given by DESME was shown and to avoid ambiguity I had also taken along that of Sixth Economic Census showing the number given by the Census of India 2011, as it was different from what was given previously. Further the page number of the passport for their purpose was first two pages together as page 1 and so on but we had taken the copies of page 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 in our own way. We had to get the correct photocopies accordingly (that Ratan Chettri helped) while the Assistant Passport Officer (APO) instructed his staff to correct the address as shown in our previous passports thus paving the way altogether. There was no need to submit the passport photos as it was taken by the assistant from his camera at the processing counter along with our fingerprints. I was given to understand that these days the passport issued were machine-readable and it would take some time to process and print depending upon the availability of the paper that was imported. I told him that was why the Government was trying to Make in India the paper used in printing currency notes as well! We were thereafter issued a certificate to the effect that our previous passports (with number and date of issue) having been cancelled for our record and reference along with acknowledgement letter with File Number that indicated Police Verification Mode had been started. The letter ended with the “Note: For any further assistance/complaints/suggestions/status tracking, please visit our web site www.passportindia.gov.in or call us at 1800-258-1800(Toll-free) ****Thank you for visiting Passport Seva Kendra. Assuring you of our best services always****” Normally such a salutation is not found in a government correspondence but usually seen in business letters as we have invariably been ending our letters from the Rachna Books in all 36 years – a trait that might have been inherited from my Buba Jai Shanker Lall Shresta*, who was an M.A. (Commerce) from Calcutta University in 1940.
Their letterhead had a logo for Passport Seva with Government of India emblem and motto “Service Excellence” on the top left side, while the right hand side had a serial number and File Number in bar code. One thing good about the system was soon after our application was submitted online and appointment given to us, they started sending reminder from Passport Seva Communications Team by email about the appointment with number, date and time two days ahead and again a message on mobile phone a day ahead reminding of the date and to bring original documents and application receipt. Next day after our visit to the PSLK, passport.admin sent an email informing about the Initiation of Police Verification Request for Passport Application. I need not add here that their website is user friendly and convenient to seek necessary information and help as well.
To conclude, I share here this comment someone made to the TOI news, PM Modi continues to deliver and take India to a new height of glory. It is good that his concentration never gets a break despite the day and night negative campaign being made on non-existent issues by Congress and a section of the media who have a different agenda in hand. Digital India is PM Modi’s brain child and it will totally change the life of the people. This is also going to create more jobs for the youths and other experts, stop large scale brain drain, reduce huge import bills and strengthen the Indian economy besides giving a death blow to scams and corruptions due to transparency in decision making and dealings. Life will be more faster and comfortable. Welcome to Digital India. Sooner the Better!
This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life. No wonder if some narratives are found read earlier also. Some names (*asterisk for those no more), places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 9434022677 / 03592-202677 and at Rachna, opposite Manan Bhavan, Development Area, Gangtok 737 101 Sikkim India.