The long way to......

essays about my daily life. It will be something about India since it makes me happy and bothers me a lot.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

law and rule

An editorial in the Times of India, “We are the law” by Arun Misra caught my eyes. Not because the article was very good but because I had to think related things which happened at my office the previous day. The article starts with the remarks made by Meghnatd Desai, a political scientist, that even the Prime Minister’s car is fined by breaking rules in Britain. Mr. Misra throws a question to us “What should we citizens do when we are required to observe rules made for our convenience? Should we wait for our leaders to first learn to respect rules, or should we observe rules nevertheless?”


I am indeed bothered by this “nobody keeps rules and those who keeps rules are stupid” culture. I am often offended, agitated, freaked out and ended up feeling so miserable. It is just one of the instances, but I often receive phone calls from someone who is a friend of my boss or secretaries of high officials of Gov of India. The other day, one secretary of one joint secretary of one ministry (not so important ministry, I am sorry) called me regarding about visa. I told him to talk to visa officer since I am not in charge of the matter. His demand was to issue visa in a day. (With all proper documents, you can get visa issued by next morning.) He kept telling me that he does not want to talk to a visa officer since his boss is a friend of my boss. (Well, I never heard of his name….) I managed to transfer the call to my colleague saying that our officer is very partial and they do not manipulate their power as Indians do. Later, I talked to my colleague what happened. He said “Simple, I said not to them. Because they are planning to visit our country in April and I do not see any reason why getting a visa tomorrow is a problem for them!” He continued “I even asked him like is your boss relative is in hospitalized or someone passed away? It sounds like an urgent matter! Then the man laughed and understood.”

Yes, we sometimes help these matters but only when it is really serious and urgent. According to the theory of Indian secretary, his boss should get a special treatment since he is in high position. However, we are working under the rules, which make us to provide equal service regardless of their position, casts, religion or gender….

I was bothered. It is easy to say that these Indians do not have civility or common sense. However, I well understand why they need to do this. Since rules are often manipulated and arbitrarily implemented in India so they are forced to do something which ensures their purpose. What surprised me as an civil servant (yes! We are servants for our tax payers!) is that in India, it is a right for one officer whether to issue, to approve, to sign for citizens whereas it is our duty to serve citizens in Japan. So, if you go to government office to get an official documents, it is your right to get it issued and it is a officer’s duty to issue it without delay. You do not need to cajole them, plea them, not to mention to give them money! In this situation, you do not need to be worried. You know that things will be done with proper documents that are required.

Well….in other words, “we are the law” in India….it is just in bad direction.


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