In your interest.
Online Personal Finance Magazine
No beating about the bush.
Moneylife’s consistent campaign since March 2013, has led to a series of customer-friendly initiatives by MEA and TCS; the latest is with mobile technology. The mPassport Seva app provides a wide variety of services such as status tracking, locating a passport office and other general information
No more the arduous trips to your passport office and exasperating interaction with the officials who often make you run round and round. Now, to track your passport application; to find out which is your passport office if you are residing in a small town or overseas; to get the required contact numbers; to find out exactly what are going to be your application fees and; any other general information, all you need is to search it on your smartphone!
Termed as the `mPassport Seva’, this new mobile application enables Indian citizens to access passport related information on their smartphones. This service has been executed in public-private-partnership (PPP) mode by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
It may be recalled that since March 2013 Moneylife succeeded in breaking the TCS’s corporate secrecy, when it took up the passport issue at Pune, which was in utter mess. For more than a fortnight, the TCS officials refused to take note of the constant emails being sent to them regarding the breakdown in services. The writer agitated in front of the Pune’s TCS’s Passport Seva Kendra in Mundhwa, after which TCS officials came out in the open, to discuss the problems. Passport applicants were also encouraged to use Right to Information (RTI) to track status of their passport application.
Thereafter, it was after Moneylife’s managing editor Sucheta Dalal’s intervention through a meeting she organized at the Moneylife Foundation office in Mumbai. This meeting held sometime in April 2013, broke the ice of corporate secrecy. Tanmoy Chakroborty, head of Global operations at TCS, took the lead in making the Pune passport office citizen-friendly through various facilities including online payment along with the online application form. It is heartening to note that this has now resulted in an extra facility that was not envisioned before – that is, the `mPassport Seva.’ Moneylife heartily thanks the TCS and the passport division of the MEA.
See these links for other Moneylife impact stories on passport:
A press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs on 5th November, states, “In order to keep pace with the current technology, the Ministry of External Affairs had launched the mPassport Seva mobile app on Android platform, as a pilot, in March 2013. Encouraged by positive public response, the Ministry has now launched this app on Windows and Apple iOS platforms as well.’’
To avail the facilities available on your Smartphone, you would have to download it their respective stores:
Android-based handsets: www.play.google.com/store/apps/
Windows-based mobiles: www.windowsphone.com/en-in/store
Apple iPhones: www.apple.com/itunes
Following are the facilities offered on your smartphone:
In the meanwhile, citizens share their happiness on getting their passports with the guidance of Moneylife. An example:
(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
21-year old Bhadresh Wamja becomes the youngest Sarpanch of Saldi village, from where he had launched his RTI campaign against ration shops as a teenager. Two years ago, Bhadresh succeeded in persuading the Gujarat government to proactively disclose ration supply information on the walls of fair price shops as well as at the tehsil level
As a 18-year old in 2011, Bhadresh Vamja, used Right to Information (RTI) effectively to find out why the two ration shops in his village Saldi were not supplying food grains under the public distribution system (PDS). It led to the Gujarat State Information Commissioner directing the food and supplies department to make it mandatory for fair price shops to pro-actively disclose supplies, on a weekly basis.
Two years down the line, Vamja, last week, has been elected as the Sarpanch of Saldi village, about 225kms from Gandhinagar, making him the youngest Sarpanch in Gujarat, at the age of 20.
Moneylife was amongst the first to write about his RTI campaign in 2011. Vamja excitedly called me and said, “I have become the Sarpanch by securing 758 votes out of 1,805. I have won by 310 votes.’’ He has become an instant celebrity.
Vamja’s passion with RTI began with the daily columns on this subject in a leading Gujarati newspaper, which he ardently read. One day, the amount of food supplies under PDS for the above poverty line (APL) and below poverty line (BPL) category was published in this daily. Taking a cue from there, he went to his fair price shopkeeper to ask for his family’s quota. Predictably enough, he was told that the stock hadn’t come since months. Vamja followed it up rigorously through inspection of files under Section 4 of RTI Act, against all odds including threats to him. (Detailed story here, as to how he took the issue to the logical end).
Vamja’s activism reflects the good effect of the media when it highlights laws like the RTI Act. He not only awakened his sleepy village from taking injustice lying down through corruption in ration shops, but created a social revolution across the state of Gujarat, by the mandatory weekly pro-active disclosures in all fair price shops, ordered by the State Information Commissioner.
Vamja says that RTI has helped him in understanding the power of pro-active citizen participation in a democracy. He said, “It is time that all of us exercise our rights and ensure we get them by fighting for them. This is the very reason why I decided to contest the Sarpanch election. I feel that, now that I am part of governance; I will be able to make a difference through transparency.’’
Vamja’s tryst with RTI has motivated him to spread the word by inspiring his peers to use RTI and by holding workshops. He works closely with Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel, a NGO in Ahmedabad, which has a very active RTI helpline for citizens. He says, “The young generation must use RTI for all their daily issues like procuring a driving license, passport etc so that corruption will subside. Youngsters should also get into politics and stand for elections at every level, in order to cleanse the political system.’’
Vamja’s mission now is to implement e-governance in his capacity as Sarpanch. “This is the best step towards transparency and justice to the people,’’ he says.
We wish him all the best.
You may also want to read…|
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice, in 1998 and 2005, and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”)
The RTI is one of the most powerful tools and an essential democratic right of every Indian citizen. A handy guide takes you through the steps to file an effective guide
The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) that came into force eight years back has proven to be one of the most powerful tools put to use by every Indian—big and small—to obtain information that was all along denied under the garb of ‘official secrecy’. Thanks to the benefits of the RTI, many of India’s biggest scams and scandals are now exposed.
Deepak Sandhu, chief information commissioner (CIC), very rightly says, “RTI is a game changer. It has democratised information to the citizen’s advantage. The citizen is central in the Act. Other countries offer freedom of information while our legislation recognises it as a right.”
Here are a few tips to make effective use, to extract the most appropriate response, and minimise the possibilities of rejection on frivolous grounds.
(Nagesh Kini is a Mumbai-based chartered accountant turned activist.)