Saturday, January 07, 2006

RTA Office

One office which has not change a bit also right from my childhood is the RTA office in India. RTA stands for Road Transport Authority. These are the people in India who issue driving licenses and do registrations for all kinds of vehicles after examining them. Well I went to the RTA office last time only about 6 years back and thank god I did not get the fortune of visiting it again in the recent past. But the day finally arrived on 7 January 2006 when I had to enter the pedestals of India's most unfriendly and totally customer disoriented office. The RTA office of Musarambagh.

Recently we got our first four wheeler, a Maruti Esteem. Since I did not have any prior experience of driving, we appointed a driver who asked me to take the learning license at the earliest because of numerous checks by the traffic police at various places. So I went to the RTA office on saturday. Inspite of lot of resistance from my side Dad took me to the office and I was shocked to see a similar kind of situation as I saw close to 6 years back. Same agents or Dalals, Same old police inspectors and the pretty much the same unfriendly staff. But there was a change in the manner the process was carried out this time.

The entire operations of the RTA office were computerized with some central system running at place. It was amazing. The application submission happens and then photograph was taken using a digital camera. Then a digital signature pad was given to me on which I had to sign and it would directly appear on the screen. It was a very unique usage of technology, I must say since I have not seen the signatures still appearing digitally. Thereafter we moved to the first floor where one had to give some computer examination against the physical and visual examination which used to happen earlier.

The way I took the examination only I know. It was one of different kind. But I must say the way IT has penetrated into the system and made it look really easy. The entire process was so well managed that the job which used to take some days to get done got over in just about an hour. Now the target time for most of the jobs at the RTA office is one day only. The improvement clearly shows the ability of IT to right track any business process although it finally boils down to the people who are using it to set the process right.

Another instance in day to day life where IT has made life simple for many of us. I got a print out of my Learning license with a hologram of RTA office for just 60 Rs. which could take anywhere between 400-700 if done through a agent.

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