In the three years that it has been in office, the present government has taken several decisions; some of them fired, some misfired and some backfired. A lot of discussion and media coverage has been given to nearly all of them. How far are the various claims correct would anyway be known in future. Among all this downpour of decisions, schemes and proposals, a small decision was also taken by the government, which did not attract that much media attention. Perhaps it was not that glamorous as GST or controversial like demonetization. Or perhaps presumably it did not directly affect most of the population. At least they thought so.
I would not stretch the introduction further. The decision that I am talking about is that from now onwards the various documents submitted to any government office could be self-attested. You would understand what it means if you or any of your family members or friends has ever applied for any job. The candidates’ marksheets and certificates need to be attested by a gazetted officer. It might seem to be a very trivial affair and a small step in the long recruitment process. However, in reality, it is not so. Those who have gone through that trauma would understand it very well. Unemployment is indeed a bigger problem than what appears from afar. Candidates keep wondering when would this cycle of running between departments would end. Unemployment is a problem not only of finding a job, but also because of the torture the process involves. And I am talking about only unemployment. Remember that in our country, not just job, but your every activity needs to be approved by a government officer.
First, it was a big difficulty in finding a gazetted officer in your town. Then those officers must be willing to do that favour for you. Note that you are not the only candidate in your town looking for a job and filling applications. There would be several others like you. Secondly, these officers are eligible to attest documents does not imply that they have to. And most of the time they do exercise this freedom to refuse to attest documents. Some put an upper limit to the number of documents they would attest — not more than 1, 5, 10 etc per candidate. Some others have set visiting hours during which such ‘unofficial offical’ favours could be sought. And then there would be those who would seek charges (yes, money, fees) for giving out their valuable signature — without which you would not get your job, no matter how highly deserving you might be!
I remember one short telefilm on this theme. I remember it for two reasons — one, the cast of the film was made up of highly polished actors, some of them were our favourites. And secondly and more importantly, that was the only instance in my memory that dealt with this subject in detail.
I do not remember the names of the characters since it was so long ago. Hence I will use the actors’ actual names. In fact, whenever we narrate the story of any movie or TV serial to others, we do use the actors’ real names, don’t we?
OK. The story goes somewhat like this. Virendra Singh, an unemployed young man, went to the office of a government officer, Kanwaljit Singh, to get his documents attested. He had to submit those documents along with his application form for some job. Kanwaljt threw a glance at the documents and put them on his desk. Then he said to Virendra:
— Do you know what attestation means? It means that I am giving an undertaking of the correctness of whatever entries you have made in the application.
— Yes Sir.
— And that implies that I know you very well and can give attestation of your honesty. Now, how can I do it? I hardly know you. This is the first time that I am seeing you!
— Sure Sir. I can only request you. And if you say, I can produce whatever document you ask to convince you of the correctness of my application.
— Ah! All that is cumbersome. Anyway, what would I get in return for this favour that you want from me?
[Please note that he was so direct! Don’t throw it away as a work of fiction. Some officers do indeed make such demands.]
— Sorry Sir, I don’t have anything to offer you – replied Virendra with a serious and sad look – I am still searching for job, and don’t have enough money.
— Ah! But I see a watch in your wrist. What is it? Gold I see. Why don’t you . . .
— Sorry Sir, this is a gift. I can’t give it to anyone.
— Then you may take your documents.
Virendra took his documents and left the office.
The next scene showed Virendra walking along a not-so-crowded city road, looking dejected and tired. Suddenly he heard the sound of a fast car behind him and saw a child crossing the road. Everything happened in a flash without giving anyone any chance to react. The car hit the child and injured it seriously. Virendra rushed to the spot and took the child in his arms.
The next scene showed the corridor of a hospital, where several people were seen waiting anxiously. And here came Kanwaljit Singh, running to the doctor and asking anxiously for a child who was just brought in. Yes, it was Kanwaljit Singh’s child. The doctor assured him and said with a smile:
— Don’t worry, no need to panic. The child was seriously injured, but is out of danger now. It would recover completely in a week or so. I should say it was brought on time and we could start the treatment immediately. Otherwise it would have been difficult.
— Doctor, can you tell me, who brought my child here?
— Sorry, we didn’t ask his name, neither did he tell. He got your address and phone number from your child’s school bag and gave us. In fact, he didn’t even have money for getting the child admitted. So he deposited this watch instead. Strange fellow! – told the doctor with a laugh.
Kanwaljit immediately recognized the watch and said, ‘I know this person, Yes, I know this person.’
— Don’t worry, he would come in the evening to see the child, at least that is what he had said. You may try then.
Virendra did come in the evening. Kanwaljit felt embarrassed, said sorry, and very apologetically asked Virendra:
— Where are your documents? Give them, I would attest them straightaway.
— No need Sir. I have already got them attested. I thought, if I have to anyway pay to get them attested, then why not go to some even greater (higher) officer! [sarcasm]
So friends, at least in this matter I would say that achchhe din are finally here. Your original problem may not be solved, but the process itself would be a bit less painful now. If you too had any bad experience while seeking to get your documents attested, you can yell out your frustration in the comment box below. And once you feel relaxed, don’t forget to thank Modi kaka for this kind gesture.
Major relief to citizens, govt to accept self-attested documents, The Times of India, 15 July 2014.