I went to the Passport Seva Kendra at Outer Ring Road in Bengaluru to submit the application for the reissue of my minor daughter’s passport on tatkal. The lady at the front desk, G (name withheld) told me, “A single parent cannot apply for the reissue of her daughter’s passport on tatkal.” I was asked to get my daughter’s father and the reason for the separation, all this in full public view.
Being informed, I told her candidly that was not a reason for rejecting my daughter’s application for reissue of her passport on tatkal, and that she was not eligible to ask personal questions that violate decency in civil society.
It was most humiliating! This behavior from the front desk executive was a deliberate harassment. This sort of harassment is a form of violence against women. What is sad is, it was perpetrated by a woman.
I could see people standing in other queues getting interested in our discussion and my patience was fast depleting. What I have learnt from my interaction with such people who try to act ‘holy’ is to go nasty the full way. This, from my experience always worked and fuses such unrestrained curiosities about other people’s life. And I did just that. I gave her a biology lesson that left her scarlet and mute.
It is a good practice to always do your homework to understand the process and procedure before going to any offices. Before visiting the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK), I scanned http://passport.gov.in/ to get the details. I called up the customer care many times to validate the list of documents required. I then called up Mr Suresh Rana, APO, CPV Division, Ministry of External Affairs to validate. I also wrote to the RPO but never received a response.
I was told, since this is a reissue, I need not submit all the documents that I had to attach when I applied for her passport for the first time. Her details are in their database. So, I was asked to submit Annexure H, a copy of my passport and my daughter’s passport, and our new address proof along with the application.
(Note: Annexure H is just a declaration, yet I went ahead and got it attested by a notary.)
I thought I was pretty thorough when I went to the PSK. (My daughter had to miss her school that day.) The humiliation was unexpected and left me fuming.
A single parent faces innumerable challenges to get work done and more so if she happens to have a very distinct sense of what is right and what is wrong.
Not having a partner is not a crime. Raising a child single-handedly is not a sacrifice but a choice and I do not think any self-respecting single parent needs the snide or the sympathy.
But, disrespecting, humiliating, and abusing emotionally an individual just because of her marital status is not what your ideal society wants. It is a gross violation of human rights and is condemnable.
I could get my work done on that very day because I was informed and insisted that I meet the APO. They allowed me to when I spoke to Mr. Suresh Rana. But, not all can create this sort of stir. So, does that mean such violence, that doesn’t leave visible physical scars but completely stresses out the person involved, would continue in offices? I doubt whether anybody would raise the flag for the fear of their paper work getting delayed or rejected.
Oashe ( my daughter) learnt a valuable lesson that day. On our way back home after the intense drama, she told me that she is determined to remain steadfast on her beliefs, will not accept any sort of injustice meted out to her or her friends, and will protest in accordance with the laws.
What is required is sensitizing and sanitizing the mindset of the customer facing executives. This lady at the front desk is a TCS employee. She is young, still in her twenties and yet she has unhealthy thoughts. Asking for a total revolution of the mind set is a tall order, but such mindset from Gen Y is not expected.
We need to think where we have gone wrong and if we have a young force with stagnated thoughts, it is an indication of a society that have grossly misinterpreted the basic human values that transcends marital status, borders, and colour.