lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Sunday, October 15, 2006

With a Little Help from My Friends

What makes a person a resident? What are the criteria that decide it?

I tried to reason with the Deputy Commissioner of Police in his huge and intimidating office with its high ceiling.

My son is a dependant. We, his parents, have been living ('have resided continuously' in Bureaucratese) in Calcutta for the last sixteen years. That should make him a resident, even though he has been in a boarding school for six of those years and in college since last year.

But no, he is not a resident of Calcutta, even though his ration card states he is, because he hasn't been continuously resident here for one year. Worse, he wasn't even born here, he was born in Madras. That birth certificate damned him.

I am not a resident myself, probably, as I was away from Calcutta for a fortnight last year. If I tried to apply for a verification certificate and stated that datum honestly, I'd probably be refused a certificate, too. No matter that I was here in Calcutta the other three hundred and fifty days of the year. Not a resident continuously for a year, the DCP would have shaken his head, and refused to give me a certificate.

No matter that I lived here for lo, these many years. No matter that I have no criminal record.

I am told that the purpose of this verification is to ascertain if a person applying for it lived at the address given, and if there is a criminal record against their name. My son definitely was living here when the inquiring officer came to talk to him. The gent checked all the documents we provided. Those included the domicile certificate from his school, the letter from his University saying he has been selected to represent them in a debate. Doesn’t that imply that he is a student there? It is a residential school, so he would be living there, obviously. Surely there is no further proof required?

And if they needed to verify couldn't they check the web page of the school, couldn't they call and ask? The Registrar or the Hostel Warden or the Vice Chancellor would have confirmed that my son was a student and yes, they issued a letter stating he will be attending a debate in Oxford and Cambridge in November, along with others.

But I was told that my son would have to go back and apply for a verification certificate from the police district of his school's area; or ask the Regional passport Office to transfer his application to Bangalore and process it there.

I pleaded time constraints. I tried to point the absurdity. My son is not continuously resident in Bangalore either, as he spends his vacations here. So won't the Bangalore Police say the same?

I wrote about this earlier and prayers and good wishes poured in. Neha and Ram sent prayers by express courier. Chandru donated a virtual whip to speed things up. Rimi sent a good luck hug. Ferrari sent a prayer to be redeemed as needed. The Marauder's Map commiserated. Ram prayed for miracles, which he believed in. Brazen Head suggested agents and spreading cash around. D.N.A. said to look to the family. Ramki wanted updates. My blogging family felt like a real family in the immediate support and sympathy offered.

Neha, bless her soul, went one step ahead and did what D.N.A. suggested, called on the blogging family for help. She asked me to get in touch with a person, a Government Babu and a blogger, who might be able to help.

But all that cut no ice with the police and I walked dejectedly out of the office.

My phone beeped. It had rung before, but I didn't answer the call as I was pleading with the DCP. I assumed it was K wanting news. I answered this time. "Lalita Mukherjea?" said a stranger. He introduced himself and invited me to step into his parlour, where he could write me a waiver for the police verification.

Deus ex machina, indeed.

There is something called an ECNR waiver. A letter, from a Deputy Secretary/ Director/ Joint Secretary/ Add. Secy./ Spl. Secy./ Secy./ Cab. Secy. to Govt. of India; or a Joint Secretary/ Add.Secy./ Spl. Secy./ Secy./ Chief Secy. to a State Govt.; or a Sub Divisional Magistrate/ Additional DM / District Magistrate of the district of residence of the applicant; or a District Supdt. of Police/Range, DIG/IG/DGP of district of residence of the applicant; or a Colonel and above or equivalent rank in the Air Force and the Navy or a General Manager of a Public Sector Undertaking can vouch for the applicant and dispense with the police clearance. The applicant can submit that waiver and ask for his passport application to be considered under the Tatkal scheme and issued quickly.

With a little help from my friends, I found that my son could do away with the need to prove his residence, continuous or otherwise.

I blogged on my woes on the 10th. The DCP refused to give the certificate on the 11th. All those prayers and good wishes from all over the globe did the trick. My son collected his Tatkal passport on the 13th, with a little help from my friends.

What a wonderful world this is!



Blogger Rimi said...

Told ya, Lali! Yay! And it's very nice of JAP, I'm sure. In short, woohoo.

4:45 pm  
Blogger neha vish said...

:) That lunch now becomes a lunch and dinner Lali! Wonderful this is. Daisies in my head etc.

6:42 pm  
Anonymous Prophet of Doom said...

@ Missus Em:

What a wonderful world this is ... Indeed it its, if you think so ....

As they say, "Everything will be okay in the end .. If its not okay, its not the end !

7:54 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

Wow! Miracle Woman.

10:08 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Rimi- I will write a recco if you ever apply to be sibyl, I swear.

Neha- Yup, yup, yup. Lunch, dinner, a whole week's worth of mega meta uber a la Lali kinda meals, love. More daisies in your cornet, I insist.

Ram- Life has treated me kindly so far, let me not quibble, eh? But in the end you are dead, there is that, too. *grin* Not the end yet.

Rajesh- Yeah, it's strange how it all worked out. Friends turned me into a miracle woman, Superwoman, whatever, by pitching in with prayers, good wishes or links and help. This would not have happened if I didn't blog, I swear.

10:57 pm  
Anonymous Hehhh said...

Could've achieved results with a trident in hand too, probably. With "Aaatha Karumaari kan pattaa podhum" in the background.

Glad it worked out peacefully.

7:28 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Hehhh- What's with this insistence on casting me as Amman? Why? Wherefore, I say?

8:32 am  
Anonymous F e r r a r i said...

Super :)

12:19 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ferrari- Yes. I am still dizzy with relief.

4:23 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

This is wonderful news Lali. You are indeed a miracle woman. And a very lucky woman too.

5:48 pm  
Anonymous ramki said...

To sound cliched, All's Well that ends well. It's just the mentality -- this is the only occasion that a police sub-inspector or a clerk in a passport office gets a chance to show his or her power. You would be surprised, the private sector is no better. It can be as bureaucratic, if not more. All the best to your son.

10:17 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ramki- Thanks. I do wonder whether such petty things as throwing one's weight around because one can, occur becuase that is the only power they can display.

It makes me gnash my teeth, though. Why? In the end,"They" would have ended up acknowledging the continuous residence was a non-issue. Friends tell me I missed out several openings for offering a bribe, but I refuse to believe a high ranking offcial will stoop to suchlike.

Maybe Missus Em needs to get her reading glasses checked. And her reality checked, too.

11:43 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Oh, Ash, thanks.

11:45 pm  
Anonymous Hehhh said...

To reverse the line, Theivamnu azhaikaadha amma illai .... wait, you been away too long to know Rajnikanth.

: )

7:45 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Hehhh- And who is Rajnikanth, eh? Kidding. :-)

8:15 am  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. /body>