Tatkal. Thats Sanskrit for ‘instant’. Under the Indian Government’s Tatkal Scheme, one can get instant bookings on citizen services ranging from railway tickets to passport. A fast track process for those needing them at a short notice.
This has been around for a while and we have all waited online, for Tatkal bookings to open, so that we could reserve that train ticket, fast and easy. Inspite of knowing all that, I wasn’t prepared for what happened when I decided, on the spur of the moment, to renew my passport immediately.
Thursday Afternoon: I book an appointment online for renewing my Passport, under ‘Tatkal’.
Friday Afternoon: I am at the Government Passport Seva Kendra, Ameerpet for the appointment.
Saturday Morning: I am signing for my Passport, just arrived through Speed Post, yet another Government of India enterprise.
I hadn’t even finished my first cup of coffee, and there it was my shiny, new passport in mint condition! 😀
My passport was up for renewal this September, but I was putting it off, for the dread that anything to do with the Government of India’s bureaucracy inspires in all the citizens of the country. I needed some personal details updated, had no clue about the documentation required and add to that, the confusion caused by consultants. Middle men really – who are a dime a dozen – charging to “ease your interactions” with Government departments. So, there I was putting off for as long as possible, what seemed like a herculean task.
‘Women needn’t change their name in the passport after marriage’, said Prime Minister Modi only the other day. This statement was received with mixed emotions. Some cheered for it, calling it progressive. Others dismissed it, for married women in India had always had that choice.
True, one did always have that choice. Along with the option of adding one’s husband’s name to the passport – at their own discretion – without having to submit any supporting documentation. Not even the marriage certificate.
I wasn’t aware of any of this, till I was actually inside that Passport Seva Kendra, last week, just days before the announcement.
So, the general reaction only points out to the confusion and long entrenched prejudices in our minds about cumbersome procedures, endless paperwork, red tape and corruption that we have long come to associate with Government Departments.
We couldn’t be more wrong.
Those were the exact steps I followed and I had my new Passport in hand, on day three.
The documents required are limited and straight forward too. A copy of your passport- if its a renewal, a supporting document if you are applying for any changes in your personal details (which I did) & a copy of the application form submitted online.
I admit I was apprehensive myself, not knowing where to go once I entered the office. So, I just decided to follow the crowd and stick it out. Once I got to the first counter, it was only a matter of seconds before my documents were sorted & I was told what exactly was needed. Thanks to the tiny cafe that doubled up as a Xerox centre in the corner of the same room, my documents were in order and I was back at the counter. Before I knew it, my file had been processed. All I needed to do was keep an eye on the screen and move from one counter to the next, as the token number assigned to me flashed on it. In 20 minutes, I was past 3 counters and out with my old cancelled passport and an sms waiting for me on my phone, with all the details of my file and a link to track its status.
& here I am happy and super impressed with the Government of India and the Passport Seva Kendra.
There were of course the usual people complaining to stand in a queue, creating a ruckus, threatening to complain against the system and the employees. But, if you ask me, this particular Passport Seva Kendra that I went to, was manned by friendly, helpful and super efficient staff.
Did you know, that on an average over 3000 passports are issued in our country everyday under Tatkal?!
So I say, from experience, all that you need to get your passport fast and easy, is the attitude.
Official Passport Seva Website http://www.passportindia.gov.in/AppOnlineProject/welcomeLin
Begin your Online Application
Download, Fill & Upload, eForm
List of Documents Required
PS: This is just my way of saying thanks to the Government of India & those who work for it and spreading some positivity.