Tuesday, 26 April 2011

My experience at the RTO

I woke up late one morning only to see that I'm past the time that my class starts. It was going to be a herculean task to get ready and travel 20km by bus only to reach, at best, the 3rd class out of the 4 classes that day. After loitering around the house thinking about how I should be waking up early, I stumbled upon a great opportunity of giving my Learning License test and to complete the remaining formalities. My LL had long expired and it was restricting to travel out on the roads without a license.

I reached the RTO on my two-wheeler and went straight ahead to the parking lot. As I parked my vehicle into a vacant spot, I heard a person standing right behind me saying, "Boss, you've come here to get a license?". I replied hastily, "Yes". He asked me to follow him as he told me with considerable ease that he will guide me through the process. I followed him up to a certain place; asked him how much he would charge, as I soon realized that this was a person not directly involved with the licensing authorities. He quoted "approximately Rs. 50 here and there" with an expression that conveyed the amount was meagre.

I brought the required documents along as he was doing all of my work - filing the documents, pasting the photographs, giving it a certain order and structure, giving it a seal of a driving school etc. He then walked around hastily and asked me for a total amount of Rs. 550 to get an LL and DL for both car and bike. I was initially shocked to know of the amount, but at the back of my head, I was quite sure it was very cheap compared to the Rs 1000+ that is normally paid. To be honest, I was confused. My eyes then wandered over the name of the driving school and I decided to go ahead as my work was getting done through "a driving school". I rushed back home; brought in the amount; paid it to him. He helped me with the further processes required to obtain an LL - go to the 2nd floor; stand in the queue; show the inspector the original documents; after the signature, get a challan of Rs. 60. I did just that and I was sure of what was to be done next. That made me comfortable as I found a smooth flow to the processes one after the other.

After completing the formalities, I gave him a call. He rushed to where I was and asked me if I had passed the test that I had just written. I told him I had. He was glad and he asked me to come another day to receive the LL. That day came, but I didn't get my LL. Then another day, and another day, and another day. Finally, I had my LL after more than a week's time. I was glad. He now asked me for Rs. 100 to be given to "someone". I paid him the amount and thanked him for all the work that he had done for me. He gave me the dates on which I needed to come back to the RTO to get hold of a DL. All was well and good.

When I think about the turn of events right from when I parked my vehicle in that vacant spot, I don't see anything "wrong" with what had transpired as opposed to the common conception. What really happened was that I unnecessarily spent my parents' hard-earned money and I found it very disappointing that I did it. One has the choice of going all by himself and get an LL by paying Rs. 60.

In these times where India is taking a strong stand on transparency, I think it is a great opportunity to look into the systems in place at the RTOs. Perhaps the govt. can make the processes more transparent and direct? Maybe they can employ people, especially, to guide people through these processes? The increase in expenditure (to pay these people who will serve at the RTO) will be a tiny speck compared to the govt. spending on various areas of civil and social aspects. The RTO serves us well. Why not take the service to a whole new level?   


Paradox said...

IMHO, you just paid a bribe and you are too naive and ignorant to even see it. The broker did not just guide you through the process (which would have been ok), but he took money at various stages to bribe people on the inside as well.

The moment the RTO staff sees the seal of this particular driving school they know that they need to get money from this particular broker. They have a very tried and tested system.

Finally, I feel corruption fight is not just at the top level. It has to start at all stages right from its grass roots. People take a stance and say I will not pay a bribe.

Now, you can go to the website www.ipaidabribe.com

Karan said...

The context of my post has nothing to do with evaluation and judgement of corruption at the level of RTOs. In fact, I don't intend to go there as is so often the topic of discussion. My context here is very new (where I have kept aside things like corruption and bribery) and it is to outline the workability or unworkability of the existing system. I'm saying "Okay, there is bribery, but does it work out for us?" It didn't work out for me.