At the mercy of perverse staff and predatory middlemen – This is Prant Office of Malegaon
You are failing the poor if they have to dig into their pockets or struggle for months for issuance of a ration card or a certificate
Malegaon: Last week I was at the Prant Office of Malegaon to meet the Tahsildar. She was not in her seat. Her attendant said she was likely to come any moment. A number of people were waiting outside her chamber. They were all visibly tired with despair writ large on their faces. It was 12:00 noon.
The Tahsildar finally turned up at around 01:30 pm. The number of people waiting outside her office had doubled.
“Madam, please, I am coming here since last one month. I have submitted all the necessary documents. Yet, I am not getting my ration card issued”, a man in his 80s, holding some documents in his hands, rushed and pleaded with her.
The poor chap was at the Prant Office since 11:00 in the morning and had to wait for about two and half hours before he was able to meet the Tahsildar after about a month. But, his ration card was still out of his reach.
At around 06:00 pm on the same day, I saw the Prant Officer sitting in his office with a henchman of a former minister who was accompanied by few females and a girl student. The Prant Officer was chatting with them, totally ignoring that there were about a dozen people waiting outside his cabin in bone-chilling cold.
A little later, a staffer came with a printout that looked like a Caste Certificate and gave it to the Prant Officer who signed it and handed it over to the delighted girl student. The door of the Prant Officer’s cabin was open and everyone was watching what’s going on inside. Among them were 3-4 Tribal. It later turned out that they were pleading with the Prant Officer since morning that day for issuance of a similar document, but to no avail.
“We are struggling because …. We don’t have a God Father”, they just said.
In total contrast to the exhausted lot straining for their jobs done, I also noticed, in the morning and also in the afternoon, a number of people – cheerful and exultant, entering and exiting various offices in the premises, exchanging documents and bartering pleasantries with otherwise rude staff. They were the middlemen or agents as people knew them – blessed with a special privilege to enter any government office they wish and meet officers without a prior appointment.
This is an everyday scene, not just at Malegaon Prant Office but perhaps in every government office across India, and we can’t fully blame the SDM Malegaon and Tahsildar for the painful situation because they are part of a system where power is worshipped, money does all the talking, and the poor? They are born to suffer.
The Malegaon Prant Office was sometimes back in news when the Additional Collector (ADC) Malegaon, Prant Officer (SDM), Tahsildar and Naeb Tahsildar along with some clerks were suspended in a span of few months after being caught red handed taking bribe. The SDM who was charged of corruption had become so arrogant that he had, instead of addressing their serious grievances, told a group of industrialists “to go and meet President, Prime Minister or Chief Minister, he doesn’t give them a damn”.
There are no such allegations against the current Tahsildar. Nonetheless, she lodged only last week a complaint with the police against a person who she said was trying to “extort” money from her. In her complaint, she said the accused threatened to “expose” her if she did not pay the ransom he was demanding.
On the other hand, the current SDM was transferred to Malegaon for a second term when the routine activities at Malegaon Prant Office were in total disarray after the arrest and consequent suspension of top officials. He had earned a good reputation during his first tenure in the city. He is also applauded for restoring order at the Malegaon Prant Office. But, at times he makes commitments and big promises without ascertaining how they will be converted into a reality.
Put aside the tall claims and big promises, you are failing the poor if they have to dig into their pockets or struggle for months for issuance of a ration card or a certificate – which is a child’s play for a girl student merely because she has the backing of a political henchman. A no nonsense and upright officer you are, but you must also realize that ultimately what counts is what you deliver, especially for the poor and destitute.[The writer, Aleem Faizee, is Founder Editor of ummid.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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