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February 2002

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FunkyTalk on dot com Services

By J. V. Ravichandran

The ICICI bank, in India, has adopted e-cheques in its e-banking section, according to a TOI report. An outcome of possible influence of my article in this page of December 2001.

Hip voice messaging service ! A hip and convenient telephony, friendship service from dialnetindia.com. Although the service is in its infancy, the outlines of this service seem well laid out. Listen to a message and leave a message via a funky box number ! A forewarning not to use abusive or indecent language/words is quite thoughtful and the service may turn out to be a real blockbuster just because of this thoughtfulness. The greatest promise of this service is that it can pass messages to friends living in far corners of India, without having to incur STD phone bills in the process ! Dialnetindia.com has other services, too, on the cards. "Funky talk" is exciting because it is free, at least, till 31st January, 2002.

Still on funky, yahoo.com has made its email service quite "funky", with new options like marking a "read" message as "unread" ! Yahoo services have always been excellent, with its domain hosting service "Geocities.com", the best among all !

The ICICI bank, in India, has adopted e-cheques in its e-banking section, according to a TOI report. An outcome of possible influence of my article in this page of December 2001. In India, an effort or a suggestion or even project reports are used gleefully but never rewarded or even acknowledged. I had earlier, two years back, submitted a report to Mr. Parvez Hashmi, then Min. of state for transport of Delhi, but never receieved an acknowledgement for it in official press reports although many salient points of my report had been utilised and one of them, a suggestion on "Unified colour scheme for all public transport in Delhi" has really been adopted heavily. Worse, I received viruses from the Indian Banks' Association, as acknowledgement for my effort on e-banking !

Still on responsibility, the MEA of India has an attitude that will leave anyone with an impression that s-he is dealing with a superpower's ministry. Even heads of the European union have been snubbed with "Madam (the ever-absent MEA's spokeswoman) is not available. Please leave a message" An enquiry on the reason behind the American Embassy's decision to entrust all visa based activities to T.T.Services, a courier company, via the web, (the exact address is not known to even the Embassy staff !), produced a snorter of a reply ! "We are not aware of such developments. Please contact the America division." where another woman officer, with an unpronounceable name, is rarely available at 9.30 A.M., according to her woman secretary, due to pressures of a tight work schedule ! How can such workers' schedule ever be tight, when they don't even bother to know or don't know the major international developments in their own country? Maybe Ministry of External Affairs means affairs external to internal affairs !!

Incidentally and quite interestingly, the reception at the American Embassy has almost the same kind of response. "We are not aware of any such development, sir. We don't even know the URL of TT services", while an advertisement had been taken out in The Times of India, late last year, about the new net based services via the website of T.T.Services. The interesting aspect of this development is that T.T.services has been entrusted this new responsibility of providing net based services to U.S. visa seekers, after the Sept. 11 attacks, when immigration procedures should have been tightened and best handled by the esteemed consulate itself. A majorly thought- provoking and one of concern, is this decision of the consulate, as illegal immigrations nearly caused major disaster for the world and to allow such loopholes in the immigration procedures especially, in a country where back door entries are famed and occur often.

More interestingly, T.T.Services has been entrusted with these new powers after it had bungled with my application, in a rather heavy way (This I can recount with total confidence as the H1B application, which T.T.services bungled with, was mine and the consulate knows this bungling, too!) and instead of taking action on the handling agent, the esteemed consulate has honoured its malicious ways by entrusting more powers to it ! One of my documents had been misplaced or deliberately withheld by this agent thus provoking the embassy's strict ruling against my favour. But, all said and done, visa seeking has become more convenient because of the web based services of the American Embassy however, incompetent may be the handling agent in between !

Still on responsibility, any educated person would agree that a grievance concerning visa matters should best be addressed to the MEA or to the PMO but if diplomats are not even given appointments, can the common man hope to get one from the royal ministry ? The alternative to tight schedule is net based administration, which not only eases the public's life but also speeds up administrative action. But, then, the MEA is too busy doing nothing, than rethink its functioning ! The PM's website is just for decorative purpose as there is no attendant to the complaints made via this website - http://pmindia.nic.in. An enquiry to the PMO evinced this response - "We can't do anything on this matter. We can only forward it (back to!) to the MEA or to your local police station both of which are worse than no justice ! Administrative processes are understandable but what kind of a strange process is this where the highest office does not even bat an eyelid nor knows what to do, when the same grievance, in any country, would have caused an uproar in the parliament ?

All said and done, all the above facts have one commonality - they are all about utter disdain to accountability ! So, could this be the key link to the deliberate incompetence being shown in all the above instances ?