Sunday, 28 November 2010

The quintessential bureaucrat

All bureaucrats are the same, but some are better than the others ! Each nation is blessed with a liberal sprinkling of "homo sapiens pointless bureaucracy-ensis". But the ancient land of India is surely the world leader in this matter. Meet Ramamritham - the quintessential member of this species.

Readers of this blog will know of my partiality to caricaturing a typical member of a group by a name. The Indian female has featured here so often that her name is now acquiring legendary proportions (pun intended). Having been accused of gender bias, I shall now strive to correct it with describing the masculine equivalent.

India abounds in Ramamrithams. Typically he comes from the state of Tamil Nadu or West Bengal - these two cultures seem to have a huge affinity for inhabiting the corridors of babudom. He takes great pleasure in designing the most elaborate and pointless of procedures. He squeals with orgasmic delight when he has the opportunity to add one more procedural step in an already lengthy treatise on pointlessness. The more the paperwork, the greater is his joy. The airport procedures that I alluded to here and here were designed by a particularly bright specimen of this tribe. He has also been behind the need to wave your photo identity card every 5 minutes at all and sundry - I think he is protecting you and me from an acute case of amnesia of our names and how we look. We shall pass lightly over the fact that being forced to look at my photo every now and then and being reminded of the passage of years is not improving my mood.

You can't escape meeting him. If you want a mobile phone, he's there. If you ask for a gas connection he's there. If you want a passport, a credit card ......, actually anything at all, you will have the full pleasure of meeting this wonderful man. If you are returning from abroad, and have to pick up the pieces of living in India, you will have the privilege of cohabiting with him intimately for a long time. Its now 4 months since I returned back, and he still hasn't left my house.

His latest fancy has been to give me his full attention in the small matter of obtaining a new credit card. He has decreed that not only should my address be verified, but my phone lines have also to be verified. Fair enough. Call me on my mobile, and you can verify it easily enough. He then wants to check on my land line as well. But then, our Ramamritham works only from 11.00 to 4.00 Mondays to Fridays. At that time, I am, alas, away toiling for my daily bread. Tring Tring he rings. No answer. He then calls me on my mobile and complains that I am not answering the landline ! Explanations of lack of geographical proximity don't cut much ice. Right; he can sit on my application grandly. As with wine, the older it gets, the sweeter it is.

I have movingly expressed my willingness to coo sweet nothings to him anytime on Saturday or Sunday , but weekend romance does not seem to catch his fancy. I have offered to bring the sainted instrument for him to caress in person, but his idea of intimacy does not seem to extend in that direction. I have even offered to overdose him with his first love - enough paper - to prove that the landline number is indeed mine , but he refuses to be titillated even by that ruse. He is steadfast, upright and represents the best of his tribe.

I hereby award the gold medal in bureaucracy to Ramamritham. May he flourish and conquer many new heights. May he continue to bring laurels to the country. And , no doubt, he will appear time and again, in this humble blog.

PS . All characters in this post are entirely fictional and the subject of this blogger's imagination and have no resemblance to any person living or dead.

19 comments:

  1. ayyo ayyo. Laughing at your disclaimer! :-) :-) Don't worry saar, the subject of your blog will not (ok, may not) look at this blog and prolong your quest for a credit card (oh! Have you read the fine text in the application form? Has enough legalese to go bananas notwithstanding the atrocious rate of interest charged). Ramamritham still is eons away from your famed lady in terms of ubiquity and hopefully commands the same reverence as the lady as you go forward. Hopefully your mobile phone is still active, our ID hunters do all that virtual and physical verification after the service has been given and then take it away one fine day on some missing tick mark on their check-list. :-)

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  2. I have always felt disclaimers are mere denial of the truth :)

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  3. Alas I am only too familiar with this fictional person you are talking about :-)

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  4. i think ramesh, you said it all.

    When i took my housing loan with SBI, i had the most rude and frustrating experience with the Ramaratinams and the female gender of this species (not rajalakshmi ok).

    i live in brookefield. i am allotted a lawyer in malleswaram (some 20 kms away) who makes me go up and down to give her first certificate that i am eligble for the loan after 5 visits. after that, the file goes to bank and comes back some three times. i still cant understand why a checklist cannot be prepared and checked at once. so i make some 5 visits to their central processing centre (another 20 kms on the other side) to realize that the english used by the lawyer was incorrect. (it was about particular fact about the title of the great grandmother of the landowner from whom his father inherited the property and passed on to the landowner and with whom the builder entered into an agreement some 5 years back) it is a matter of absolute insignificance that about some 200 family already live here with atleast a fourth of them having a loan from SBI itself. i then run back to the lawyer whose ego is terribly hurt with this buerocracy and sends me back to the bank to fight her case. after multiple mutual rounds, the lawyer agrees to highlight her statement in a different color with a covering letter that the fact is already stated in her earlier opinion and based on which the loan is processed.

    after 2 months of struggle, i realize that i finally get my loan, but for a wrong amount, a wrong loan type, on wrong terms and with a wrong clause. i finally succumb to the terms (a loss of close to 70 K for me) out of frustration and close my deal.

    sorry for this longish post - but i cant agree more!!

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  5. :D :D C'mon, you can't bundle up the Bongali babu and mr. Tambi anna together. Each one deserves a blog to himself.

    I am astounded by the amount of employment that is generated along the way due to this paperwork :) :) We could give jobs to the americans too.

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  6. kiwibloke28/11/10

    Nice one. But Ramamrithams are aplenty not only in India but in practically every part of the world.Sandhya's ordeal with the home loan could perhaps have been sorted out by this amazingly good lawyer - read the link
    http://neworleans.about.com/b/2009/07/10/land-deed-letter-funny-because-its-a-joke.htm

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  7. @RamMmm- Yes I have heard about the terrorism unleashed by Ramamritham on mobile phone connections - ostensibly to deter real life terrorists ! Thankfully, he seems to be convinced that I am not one of that variety.

    @zeno - Covering backside ; irrespective of truth or not is usually reason for disclaimers.

    @Preeti - Alas, I know.

    @Deepa - Huge employment. To Ramamritham's consternation, they are now stopping hiring in his ranks - so he has to work harder to catch up with the paperwork he is generating !!

    @Sandhya - That's a horror story to beat them all. Unfortunately , since you are a nice lady, the aforesaid gentleman has decided to shower you with his blessings.

    @kiwi - He is there everywhere, but the overseas variety can hardly hope to match the brilliance of our home grown hero.

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  8. Anonymous29/11/10

    lol :D rajalakshmi poitu ramarathinam vanthaacha...sooberu :) thala ungalukaga link potruken..song ketu solunga epdikeethunu :)

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  9. interesting story

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  10. Kiwibloke30/11/10

    Inventing "process" is no longer the monopoly of the guvmint. See what the famous BP has done, this is fresh on today's edition of the NZ Herald. Darryn writes, "I was at a BP Service Station on Saturday morning and overheard an elderly lady saying to staff behind counter that she didn't know how to use the pumps. The staff member replied: 'Sorry love, but there are written instructions on the end of the pump. If you still have problems, there is an 0800 number to ring. Phone that and they will ring us here and we can then send someone out to help you.' Thankfully, a member of the public overheard and was more than happy to help her fill her car."

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  11. @gilsu - Nice songs indeed ; I did listen to them before commenting - hence the ask as to how you have a classical taste ??

    @kiwi - Ha Ha !! Actually the experience I described in my post was also from a large private sector bank. Ramamrithams abound everywhere.

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  12. Anonymous1/12/10

    appo en taste dabbanguthu taste nu mudivay paniteengala :D

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  13. Welcome aboard Ramamrithams! great humor but an agonizing truth Ramesh. Babu Moshay and Anna - perfect native of this tribe. We talk of a paperless office and here we have babus and their chaprasis printing currency notes for even a small fundamental right of the aam janta. Alas!

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  14. @Vishal - Alas indeed. But then you see such bureaucrats in the private industry to, as kiwi has pointed out.

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  15. No doubt about it: Ramamrithams are omnipresent. Your post immediately reminded me of a TV series - Office Office. Pankaj kapoor is the cynosure. They started with Govt office but soon moved to MNCs.

    Btw, I am sure you'd have got the credit card if you had not mentioned the land-line at all. Ramamrithams get confused with excessive dose of information, all they need is bare minimum (one should always ask them what they need the most) :)

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  16. @KC - For sure Ramamritham exists everywhere, including private companies. My current grouse is against TRAI - that blessed outfit seems to be only full of Ramamrithams !

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  17. Anonymous18/3/11

    Hillarious! Ramesh,
    Talk about bureaucracy - Holland can put your Ramamritham to shame!
    Where one has to confirm every now and then -that you are married to the same man you are living with as from the last time you filed some forms - all your children are 'Your' children -they dont have other sets of parents -and so on. After all this -your service will be delivered in 6 to 8 weeks!!!

    I long for a Ramamritham who will be available on Saturdays and Sundays and on weekdays after 6 00 - who is not out holidaying in Morocco or Bali or on a sunny beach in Spain or South of France -twice a year. A Ramamritham who is always available 'On call'. I fully agree only the Tamils and Bongs can do that -I truly love them!!!! He demands paper work- but HE DOES IT FOR YOU - NOW!!!

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  18. Anonymous18/3/11

    Hillarious!
    Ramamritham is actually a blessing - Had it been a Ram van den Bosch -you'd have to prove every now and then your id card and - prove that you are married to the same man and living with him as from the last time you flashed your id;
    and, All your children are from the same set of parents - that you all live together;
    and after all this- your service will be rendered in 6 weeks from now -It is Christmas (or Spring break- or Summer break-or Autumn break)
    This Ram van den Bosch is available only on weekdays 8 00 am to 6 00 pm; is away on a holiday 2 weeks every quarter- at Morocco, or Bali or on a beach in Spain or South of France!!!

    I love my Ramamritham - Tamil or Bong- He is on call -24 * 7 - and He will do it for me -NOW!!!!
    I think you got a bit spoilt in China!!!

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  19. @ANON - LOL. Obviously every country has its own species. Delighted to see you here.

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