Here is an incident, that taught me few lessons for a lifetime.
This incident is a classic example to prove that the only way to change the system is to constantly engage with it. If we fail to engage with the system, we will be responsible for the failure of the very system that works for us.
On 7th Nov, 2012 I had to visit post-office in Bahadurpura. The purpose of visit was to post an RTI application. Those days, I was working with my mentor Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, on exposing the scam of Bio-Diversity Meet of Nov’12 in Andhra Pradesh. I needed an IPO and then I had to post my application via speed-post.
The post-office is in a small rented building. The furniture is very old and there are no proper amenities in the office.
I went to the post office around 2 PM and to my utter shock, the post office counter was closed. When I inquired, the callous and arrogant clerk informed me that the money transactions at post-office are closed by 1 PM.
I checked if they had any notice board to notify the business hours. There was none. So I asked the clerk about the notice board. He replied callously that the board does not exist.
“That’s great”, I said.
I requested to meet the post-master. The clerk replied that the post-master is having lunch. Advised me to wait. I peeped into the back-office and found everyone busy with their work. No one was having food. So, I went outside the office building, dialed post-master’s land-line number(got it from Shaik Google). Sought an appointment. It was granted immediately.
Now I have official appointment to meet the post-master. I went into the back-office immediately.
The post-master became defensive when I questioned her about the notice board. She said the board did not exist since she started working in this office, 5 years ago.
I asked her, “why she did not make any efforts to get the board installed”. She replied that there were no sufficient funds for it. However, they pasted a printed paper on the glass at counter. But the paper might have been removed while cleaning”. And, the cleaning was done 10 days ago!!!
My next question was: “Why didn’t you paste a new paper notifying the business hours if it was removed while cleaning?”. She did not have an answer. And I got mine.
I understood that I was wasting my time. Decided to return home.
That night, I thought: Its time to change the way things are running in the post office. I searched the postal department’s site and jotted down mail IDs of few big-shots, like the postal secretary to the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Director General of Post-offices and couple of others. Those days, I guess Sachin Pilot was the minister.
I wrote a very detailed and harsh worded mail explaining the incident. 2 days later, I received a reply, addressed to Sr. Superintendent of Post-offices, of South-East Division. I was copied on the mail. The SSP of SE division was instructed to resolve my issue at the earliest. The next day, PRO (Public Relations Officer) from South-East division, Mr Venkateshwarlu called me. He wanted to meet me and discuss the issue with me in person.
I gave an appointment and he was at my door the next day. I spoke to him in detail about the incident. He assured me of immediate action. Promised installation of a new notice board to display the Business hours. He gave me his personal number and requested me to call him in future if there is any complain related to post-office in my area.
A week later, when I visited the post Office again, I found a neat and stylish Business hours board installed in the premises.
And yes, this time, the clerk at the counter was very polite and attentive.
Here is the pic of the stylish “Business Hours” board –
A few months later, I requested them to install a Citizen’s Charter and an RTI board. And they acted on my request. All I needed to do was: Send a mail and follow up twice. It was done.