People say that scaling up Mount Everest is the most demanding activity in the world, as Base Camp takes a lot out of you physically and mentally. Even I thought so until I went about trying to get my address changed in my Aadhar card. In many ways, the struggle one needs to go through in this process makes you feel Base Camp was easier.
I had moved from Mumbai to Bangalore a couple of years ago and going by the increased importance being given to Aadhar in recent times, I decided to get my address changed sooner than later. Everyone now-a-days is raising a huge cry about privacy, data security and big data these days. I feel I have no right to comment on such topics if my basic data itself is not correctly updated. This is equivalent to organizations embarking on “digital transformation” projects despite not having basic customer data of correct email addresses and phone numbers. A few stand-up comedians have also created a song about how the Government is playing “Snoop Dogg” using Aadhar. I can’t understand what problem these guys have with the Government. It is “OK” to willingly give consent to FB, Google and all the God-damn apps in the world to use your contacts, read your messages , store your photos but “not OK” to give your name, mobile number and address to the Government of India as it is “snooping on your privacy”.
Having made up my mind to get my address updated, I started scouting for the nearest Aadhar updation center. Right behind my house in Bangalore is the great Jayanagar post office. A few days ago, I had seen a banner outside the post office – “Get your address changed for Aadhar here. “It had an India Post logo. I initially wanted to get my residential address changed at a “Bangalore One” centre, which is the State Government run centre for paying off utility bills, stamp duties etc. But since the post office was a stone’s throw away, I decided to go there to save time. After standing in a queue for 20 minutes, I was greeted with a warm smile by the officer. I gave him my aadhaar card and other documents. He smiled wickedly and said “Sir. We don’t do Aadhar updation here. You need to go to the Jayanagar head post office.” I asked him – “But what about the banner outside which tells a different message?” His smile grew wider when he said “Sir, that’s a branding initiative by the central marketing team. Only head offices have this facility, but they had printed these banners for the whole of India. They wanted to exhaust their marketing budgets”. I guess all marketing departments work the same way.
Frustrated, I went to the Jayanagar head post office. It was around 12 noon. This post office had a “token” system. So, I took a token and waited for about 30 minutes. When the announcer screamed “Token No. 83, Counter no. 5.”I felt relieved. As soon as I reached counter no.5, I was greeted with another wicked smile by the babu sitting at the counter. He said “Sir, all Aadhar related requests are only handled in the last counter. You can go there.” I went to the last counter. A young man in his 20s was sitting relaxed. He was scrolling his mobile. As soon as he saw me, he started opening some files trying to act busy. When I mentioned the word “Aadhar”, he smiled wryly. He said “Sir, we accept only 10 aadhaar requests per day. The tokens for that need to be collected at sharp 9 am everyday and we do this only for an hour. Please come back tomorrow.” I wanted to have a go at him then and there for his nonchalant attitude but decided to avoid it. This guy had no work but still had the guts to say what he said. I thought I will tweet to the PMO about it but I didn’t know whether they would still reply with the same intensity post elections ( now that the results are out and the most responsive minister on Twitter Sushma ji is no longer in the cabinet) , so I decided not to. This story would be good for a blog and anyways I was running out of weekly blog topics, so I decided to move on.
I left the Jayanagar head post office and decided to go to the Bangalore One centre. There were a lot of such centers but I decided to go to the main centre in Jayanagar as I did not want another repeat of the post office fiasco. To my surprise, the centre did not have a waiting at all. I was ecstatic. I went to the first counter and gave my aadhar card. The young lady smiled at me. I smiled back. She asked me “ How may I help you?”. I replied – “Aadhar address change”. She smiled again – “Token”. I smiled back -“ Why?” She yelled at me “ Don’t you know that this centre works on weekly token system? The tokens are given at the start of the week. Please take a token for next Thursday and come back” Apparently, the bigger the centre, the longer the queue. Disappointed, I decided to try a smaller center.
I went to the JP Nagar Bangalore One Centre. It was already 4 hours since I had started but I could not get a simple address change done. I decided that having come this far and waited so long, I would get the job completed today. Even if it meant standing for a few more hours. I started daydreaming. In my dream, I was singing the Gully boy rap song “Aazadi, Aazadi” having done my address change. Before I could dream further, the security at the entrance stopped me. He directed me to a special dedicated counter for Aadhar. I saw 3 people standing there. I stood behind them. At about 1:30 pm, my chance came. As 3 people before me had completed their updation, I thought mine also would be done in a jiffy. Unfortunately, I got the same reply “ Sir, these are the morning tokens and we have fulfilled our requests for the day. It is lunch time and we dont process Aadhar requests beyond our quota. You need to come tomorrow morning”. Like many liberals, I wanted to blame Modi for everything wrong with this country until someone told me these centers were run by the State Government. I wanted to take a loudspeaker and scream “ Kumaraswamy- Yelidiyaapa.. Y This Ch*tiyaapa”
However, better sense prevailed and I came home . When I told my wife that I was “Aadhaar-ed” today by the token systems, she told me to apply online. I somehow had missed looking the online way. I scanned the Aadhaar website for list of documents and figured out that my bank passbook did not have a photo-stamp and the website mandated this. So, I went to SBI to get this done. As soon as I went to the bank, the security guard gave me a “token” and asked me to wait. Before I could scream “Oh No.. Not another token”, there was a song playing on the LCD screen which pacified me.
“Hum Honge kamyaab… Hum Honge kamyaab.. Ek Din
Mann mey hai vishwaas.. Poora Hai vishwaas..
Hum Honge kamyaab.. Ek Din”