Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Smart Cities? Start with Smart Laws instead

Will Chandigarh be the first smart city or these three with US contributing something or other? Does it even matter to most people?

I wish the government would work on simple, smart laws first. By smart I mean, that it should be easy for a person to comply with the law. It can't be that hard :(

A simple example -  shifting a car from Chandigarh to Goa. (As one person in RTO of Goa wanted to confirm that I knew I will have to pay road tax again. I am ignoring double taxation in this case.)

If the car has to be in a different state, the registration needs to be changed. That is the law. The process:
  • Get an NOC from Chandigarh 
    • Nice that they have convenient booklets containing all the forms including multiple copies which need to be filled and pages with labels for pasting  documents which need to be supplied.
    • Proof of residence is not a problem for me any more as over the last few years all my documents have the Chandigarh address.
      • But I can't forget the pain of opening the first bank account in Chandigarh after moving there.
      • Nor can I forget the problem registering the car I had bought and no acceptable proof of residence. Fortunately I got the voter id just then and survived.
    • Need to get a report from NCRB that car is not stolen. The data is online and can be accessed but I need to get the certificate from central police station.
    • Chandigarh is a compact town and I live in the heart of it. So, making 3 trips to get it was not a major hurdle especially if I can time my trips to avoid extreme traffic.
      • Go the police station - requests taken in the morning only
      • Submit request next day morning
      • Pickup the signed printout in the evening.
    • Comparatively painless process 
      • Get a token - a long queue
      • Wait turn to submit
      • Pickup NOC's next day  
Now enjoy the leisurely drive from Chandigarh to Goa.
  • Make a request for transferring the car in Goa
    • Visit the RTO office
      • Confusion about which forms I need to fill
      • Buy more forms than needed, for example form to re-register car, form to change address, form for transferring car to another person, ...
      • Fill the forms which seem appropriate
      • Show and have to remove the re-registration form
      • Need to add Form 28. 
        • A copy of which had been returned along with NOC
        • Why this form as it is an application for a NOC which contains the same information on the NOC? Why bother to understand?
      • Proof of residence is a problem
        • Own the place where I stay so sale deed will do
        • Need to get it notarised
      • Get the certificate that the car is not stolen once more.
        • This time from Panaji 
        • I am not in Panaji and a long drive or, more likely, two drives. Update - took 3 trips. I never expected them to want the Form 28 copy and not the NOC copy :) I had not taken the former with me :(
      • What next? I don't know yet.
      • Update: After submitting the file, I have to wait for 6 weeks for them to verify with the issuing authority that the NOC is genuine!
I wish what we get from the US is Reagan's signature quote: Trust but verify whereas all our interaction with the government is 'Don't trust and don't verify'. Those who need to circumvent the laws don't really have a problem. The rest of us run around in circles.

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