Feb 20, 2012

Australian visa - pleasant experience - contrast with Indian babus

A functioning bureaucracy has to balance many contradictory factors - there are rules to follow, there are issues of fair play which means you can't bend them to suit someone and so on..

At the same time, there has to be flexibility and discretion. That means officers are empowered and trusted and they act accordingly.

Almost anyone that has ever dealt with Indian bureaucracy, I am referring to those without 'connections' and deep pockets here,  will recount with horror the unpleasant and harrowing experience. Flexible only to those that can bring 'influence' to bear or throw money at them, Rigid, insulting, arrogant, uncompromising, ruthless and rule-bound to all others, Indian bureaucracy is one of the worst in the world, if not the worst.

Contrast that with the Australian visa service - tough but fair, thorough but flexible and smart.

I had to apply for one recently and my paper-work was incomplete. I would not talk about what the issue was as it may lead to abuse of the system by some. They had all rights to throw the application into the trash can and ask me to re-apply later.

Obviously, someone there is smart enough to guess that there is minimal risk of visa abuse or illegal overstay and was empowered enough to act on that basis.

Not only they processed it and waited for me to give the remaining documents, they even emailed me reminding me about it, and processed the application once I sent a soft copy over email without waiting for the document itself! In contrast to Indian babus who will typically ask for it in triplicate counter-signed by a notary public or a 'gazetted officer not below the rank of Junior Secretary' even to take a look at it.

So when I finally went with the printout, the stamping was done in less than 10 minutes.

When we have such babus and such officials, India too would have similar standards of living and economy. Until then we are destined to live in slums and curse our fate.

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