Citizen’s Experience at Bangalore Passport Seva – A perfect blend of people, process and technology


How many of you have seen a systematic well run Government Office in India? I am not sure about others but it is hardly any for me …The chaos and confusion in providing Citizen Services in most of the Government Organization in India, makes you to think twice before you attempt to get the work done by yourself…

To my surprise and disbelief my recent experience in Bangalore Passport Center, one of the passport issuing centers in Bangalore, was fantastic. Right from fixing your appointment till delivery of your passport at home, they used a perfect blend of well defined process, trained & qualified people and the latest of the technologies available to make the entire experience seamless. I am sure and you too agree even if any of the one doesn’t blend well, the system would be a failure leading to complete chaos.

It was time for passport renewals for me (after 10 years) and my family members and the journey starts with fixing an online appointment by submitting all applications over the web. The website as such is not very user friendly but yet I am delighted by the fact that even having an option to fix an appointment over web for a Government service in India is really a privilege. Considering the interests among millions of people in India to travel abroad getting an appointment scheduled in your desired date and time is no way easier than getting a tatkal train ticket in www.irctc.co.in. It is further complicated when you have to fix multiple appointments for you and family members together and that too at the same date and time to avoid multiple visits. But once you are done with it, you are all set for a smooth journey.

On the scheduled day we went to the passport office and to my surprise there was only a modest queue 30 minutes prior to the scheduled reporting time. After a quick security screening we were taken to a waiting area where after few minutes of waiting they started calling people as per the batch number in your appointment letters. Make a note that the passport seva office is second to none in terms of ambience, cleanliness and facilities right from well maintained temperature to a mini coffee shop. They are also accommodative to get you and all your family members in the same batch even if their batch numbers are different otherwise it could be very difficult with small children.

First there was a pre-screening of all documents that you are supposed to have at the reception to ensure you won’t waste every ones time in the next set of counters. Don’t worry if you haven’t taken photocopies of some documents or the photocopies are rejected for quality reasons as right there, there is a photo-copying facility available at a very nominal cost. In addition to prescreening the person at the reception puts all your documents neatly in a file and hand it over to you for further processing. This simple step just ensures no one kills time in searching, finding and providing the required documents throughout the entire process. Even if you don’t have all the required documents (primarily address proof & identity proof), they provide an option for you to reschedule an appointment in next 3 days without any additional fee.

Once you are done with the prescreening, you are given an electronic token number in a printed sheet along with all your documents neatly stacked in a file which forms the basis for rest of the processing.

Fist you have to go to one of the counter As as and when your token number is displayed in the electronic display board to get all your documents scanned and uploaded automatically to the server by a well trained and capable service agents (Thanks to TCS). The person at the A counter has most of the state of art facilities at his finger tip that you would have seen in any foreign embassies like facilities to bulk scan and upload of documents to an online server, taking instant photo of the person that eventually appears in your passport and a bio-metric scanning to complete the entire process in less than 10 minutes.

Followed by A counter you are put in B counter where a Government officer verifies all your original documents. If there is a signature mismatch you are expected to correct it there and you are sent back to one of the counter As again to get your documents rescanned. The entire queuing from counter A to counter B, back to counter A to upload the corrected document and re-verification again in Counter B happens automatically without any chaos and confusion. All you have to do is just relax and wait for your token number to get displayed in the display board and when displayed go to the appropriate counter number to get the process done.

After the B counter, there is final verification of your documents by passport granting officer in one of the C counters and with that you are done with your process. Finally at the exit your electronic token number is scanned to provide you a print out that contains all information you need to track the status of the passport in the web / over phone till you get your passport in your hand.

The one wish that I would have is a facility to process the applications of all family members together in one slot together at the same counter as managing it with small children is very difficult. By the time your processing is done, your daughter’s number may get displayed for some other counter and you would be in a bit of chaos in those moments of overlap.

I would wish one day services in every government office in India would be rendered as seamless like passport services and hope this blog article would put in ease someone who is stepping to the passport office for the first time to get their passport done ….

 

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One thought on “Citizen’s Experience at Bangalore Passport Seva – A perfect blend of people, process and technology

  1. Oh well, the random still exists in the government of India!

    My experience with the Passport Seva Kendra on Lalbagh Road, on a tatkal service, was tiring, and hopeless. The new system, thanks to the TCS company (who, I have concluded, are to blame for the mess of the Government service) cost me 7 hours in crowded halls, two trips and a rip off for a tea-bag and hot water. And this, for a mere reissue of an exhausted passport. I am not even going to mention the broken token monitors, the poor signage and the haphazard counters. It’s the IT that got my goat on this trip.

    I haven’t been to the PSK in Koramangala but I am guessing the people and service there is, rather predictably for a Government of India service, designed to cater to the IT-industry population in the vicinity. I am looking forward to the next opportunity to use the Passport Office to experience the Koramangala PSK. As an aside, the ‘bad’ appointments-maker online almost had me going where no sensible Bangalorean has ever gone before -to the Hubli PSK (700 kms way from Bangalore). Over the several days that I tried, the appointments for the Lalbagh and Koramangala PSKs seemed to be getting exhausted within literally 1-2 minutes of the gate opening; which got me seriously trying the appointment slots at the Hubli PSK! No “user” of the Passport Office in the past, before things became ‘online’, had ever needed to know or think about any Passport Office other than the one closest to their home. What is alarming is that an otherwise intelligent Ministry of External Affairs and a generally smart citizenry of India have allowed themselves to been taken for a ride by an otherwise trusted Tata company.

    It is common knowledge that converting an existing analog system to a digital system is a costly affair; in most cases it is a lossy affair. When applied to public services such conversion projects need even more care than in private enterprises that enjoys the mandates of management to drive enterprise behavioural changes. The manager of public services is the citizenry, and the delivery of public services is the work of government staff. In the case of the Passport Services now the digitalisation seems to have made things easier at the first steps (on the computers/TCS side) while moving (dumping?) all the complexities of the real world to the backend (government side). In the bargain the benefits are accruing to the TCS company while the losses are paid by the citizenry and the government.

    Hopefully the latest proposals of the Government of India to simplify the Passport process altogether, with smarter application of people and technology, will put the current messy service behind.

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