My thoughts on the subject may sound amusing to some but believe me - I cannot be more serious.
Yesterday, I had to go to the Sub Registrar’s office in (South) Delhi for some work. My personal presence was mandatory and so the fortunate visit to one of the most ill kept and equally ill managed government building, I have had the chance of visiting. I call it fortunate because it sprouted the idea of writing this article.
The experience -
The initial sight that greeted me, as I got down at the ‘forever in make shift mode’ parking area, was the long row of expensive cars. Almost all possible types, sizes and brands could be seen. Though their surroundings did not justify their price or grandeur. Even the tiny yellow Nano that I saw parked unobtrusively behind a black Sonata deserved more respect than the dusty, run down, uneven grounds that bore the rusty signage – ‘Parking area’. Well, this is almost normal in Delhi, so I did what any Delhiite under the same situation does – Ignored and moved on.
The Observation –
I walked towards the office, along with few others who were also under compulsion to accompany me to the Govt. Office. Just as we reached the gates, I noticed a couple of things together – the chaos and the extremely lost and flustered faces of few hundred people who were also there to give a test of their ‘Tolerance’ levels. I took a deep breath and prepared myself for what I knew was going to be one hell of a job.
The uninviting main gate of the office was hidden by few sets of broken tables and chairs on both sides with an army of people; I assume were lawyers or people who had the stamp (thus the power) in their hands. They checked our documents hurriedly, took our signatures on certain papers and gave it back to us and let us go (but not before charging a handsome fee, for the stamp they gleefully showed off). A token number was obtained. Our number was 68. The ongoing number was 26. We had a wait of more than an hour, somebody informed us. That somebody was a vendor selling mineral water bottles and cans of aerated drinks, just next to the main entrance. He looked at me hopefully when he shared this piece of information. Ignoring him, or rather his words, I looked around the place bravely – hoping for some respite from the very angry and unforgiving sun. But to no avail.
Looking at my discomfort, the kind gentleman accompanying me advised that I might want to go and sit inside the courtyard (still under the sun but with the merciful trees that protected all us mortals from the wrath of the seething SUN). I took the advice, not because, I thought it was a good idea but because there was no other alternative.
Inside the picture was even more disturbing than outside. Rich or poor each had the same fate –WAIT endlessly in the most uncomfortable and unfriendly environment through no fault of theirs.
The heat, the lack of space, the mind boggling number of people standing/sitting in a chaotic manner on the cemented benches in an open courtyard compiled with dilapidated and dreary looking office building which lacked even the basic facilities and had the helpless employees sitting behind tiny claustrophobic windows, trying to do their jobs, added to the desperate environment that cried out to someone, anyone who could come to its rescue.
The original parents/guardians having completely ignored and abandoned it, after its inauguration in 2003, it begged to be adopted! How on earth did the Sub registrar bear to be seen as the boss of this ‘ghost’ of a so called important build? I wondered. Soon the answer presented itself to me in the form a locked door. The registrar’s Office bore a completely deserted look.
The question –
Now the question that popped out of nowhere in my mind as I waited for my turn was - What if the fourth richest man in the world, our very own, Mr. Mukesh Ambani, decided to build another ‘Antilla’ (what a name for the biggest residential building in the world) in South Delhi?
And what if he had to personally show up at the Sub Registrar’s office (South), to ensure all his documents were legally approved?
The possible options –
He might be taken to a Sub Registrar’s office all right but the location might be a 5 star hotel where all the required employees of the Sub registrar’s office would be present. And for stamping his papers, they might be treated to some of the best meal they might have ever had in their lives with few other benefits thrown in - like a holiday package, as a bonus for their extra effort of walking to the very doors of the applicant and help him out.
Ambani , suffers the same fate as the rest of us and experience all that I have described above and then out of sheer irritation, offers the Govt. to revamp the whole place up. (I would sincerely pray for this option)
Of course, the most likely scenario is the first. But if the second one happens, people of India will really not mind him building another Antilla. Come to think of it they might in fact encourage him to build one such property in each of the cities of the country!
The wish -
I wish DELHI either has a powerful ‘voice of dissent’ that is heard or have a slew of benevolent businessmen who under their CSR policy take it upon themselves to construct and gift Public buildings to the Government because it seems people in the government cannot be bothered about such trifle things.