Conscious citizens have been empowered by online grievance platforms. Use them!
Alot of things are wrong with our roads. We grumble about it and then move on, because ‘things will never change’. That’s not correct anymore. And the reason for this is simple—two of the three priority areas for the present government are: public grievances and Centre-state relationships. Both of these, in turn, impact us as owners and operators of motor vehicles in India. I am narrating personal experiences over the past few weeks.
1) Advertisements from automobile companies that insult our intelligence are quite common. An example is the series of Honda XTreme television commercials that had been running recently. The commercials showed people dressing up from head to toe while riding a motorcycle and, in the process, performing dangerous stunts.
Earlier, getting a complaint across would not have been easy. Now, we have an option—an online complaint to ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) on their website
, or a written complaint sent in by post.
Here’s the timeline of events when I complained about the above-mentioned ad:
19 June 2014 - Online complaint
20 June 2014 - Complaint accepted
07 July 2014 - ASCI’s response: “Dear Mr Malik, Re: Your complaint C.6655(a) against the advertisement of Hero Xtreme. A similar complaint regarding the ad for Hero Xtreme (C.6655) was considered by the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC). As per their decision, the complaint has been UPHELD as the advertisement contravened Chapter III.3 of the ASCI Code (“Ads shall not, without justifiable reason, show or refer to dangerous practice or manifest a disregard for safety or encourage negligence.”). The CCC viewed the TVC and concluded that the TVC shows ‘an everyday activity being performed on the bike in an irresponsible manner’. We have advised the advertiser to withdraw or modify the ad before July 15, 2014 and have received their assurance of compliance. Thank you for having referred this complaint to us.” Write to ASCI, if you don’t like the ad.
2) Citizens have always faced problems in dealing with regional transport offices (RTOs). Recently, I was trying to help the wife of a friend who had passed away. His car was to be transferred to her name. To begin with, it took about nine months to get all the documentation ready. Since the RTO ‘permits’ three months for transfers, which is not enough time to get death certificates and other required documents, usually some penalties are imposed. Then, additional fees are payable to multiple private agencies involved in making the smart cards. All this was done by April 2014, including a rigorous examination of the documents.
After eight visits to the RTO by my driver and three months of back and forth, I decided to go to the RTO at Sheikh Sarai in Delhi myself. No luck. I was informed by the staff and then by a consortium of three, sitting in the cabin of the MLO (motor licencing officer), that the signature of the owner did not tally, and I would have to get fresh signatures of the ‘seller’. This, when the owner had died in July 2013 and all documents like death certificate, legal heirs and many other documents were right in front of them in the file! That is when I decided to push the issue, took a few photographs and returned home. I filed a few public grievances online and, by evening, everything had changed.
I received personal visits and telephone calls from the MLOs at Sheikh Sarai, and the registration certificate was hand-delivered at home. A short while ago, a very senior government servant from the ministry called up and asked me a simple question: What systemic solution would I propose to improve the current one? I said that, in the case of a motor vehicle registered in the name of an individual, the registration form should have an additional column for ‘nominee in case of death’. This would facilitate easy transfer, at a fee if required. File an online grievance if you have any problem with the RTOs.