Have you ever tried ordering a pizza? How many numbers do you call? One. Just the one, superbly publicised number, and all it takes is one phone call. That’s not all. First time callers are the only people who have to spell out their address, everyone else is already on some magical time-saving data base.
Now, have you ever tried calling the Municipal Corporation of Delhi? It’s a ten step process, if you are lucky.
1. Go to the MCD website.
2. Figure out which “zone” you belong to. (please note: If you’re calling about a problem in Shahadara, but are in Rajouri Garden when you call, you will baffle whoever you finally get through to and will have to start again)
3. Call the number given under the concerned zone on the website.
4. It may not work. Persevere. Try another one.
5. Get told by the operator that your complaint cannot be registered in this zone/department. (I was trying to call someone who looks after the Samachar Apartments, Mayur Vihar area in order to request that the decaying body of a dead dog be removed from the main road.)
6.Try number given by bored operator of point number 5
7.Try number given by bored operator of point number 6
8.Call back operators 5 and 6 and ask them to search deep within themselves for an ounce of humanity. Get a number for the Control Room.
9.Control Room tells you that you need to call the number for your zone. They are not sure which zone you belong to, but think it might be the same zone from point number 2
10.Give up. And do it yourself.
In my case, after five hours of incessant trying, I decided it was time for
. A colleague knew a colleague who knew a colleague who knew someone in the higher echelons of the MCD. A day later, the dog’s body had been removed. But what is everyone else supposed to do? The website is mindboggling and assumes that you’re totally clued into your city. What if I don’t know my Shahadra from my Sarita Vihar? What if I just landed from Mars, took an apartment in Lajpat Nagar and found that all the streetlights on my road don’t work. How many links do I click and how do I know if I’m right? Who do I call and how many times do I try? Why is it easier to book a cab (there are four different 24 hour options!) than it is to get through to the civic body sworn in to make my life easier? Why can’t government organisations have a central control room — dial 1234 and get connected anywhere.
When I call for a Cheese Margarita, I don’t know if I am talking to someone in Noida or Chanakyapuri, but I do know that my order will be passed on to the pizzeria of my “zone”, and it will be delivered. Surely the 21st century calls for some similar innovations by government departments too. What say?