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Nothing like good old interactive human being

| R MOHAN
Published Dec 15, 2014, 12:49 pm IST
Updated Mar 30, 2019, 6:55 am IST
Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG or DBLT is driving people in droves to the gas agencies
Picture for illustrative purposes only.
 Picture for illustrative purposes only.

This seems like a throwback to the ration shops of the scarcity era when long queues would be an everyday sight. The Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG or DBLT is the new concept that is driving people in droves to the gas agencies and banks. While the government might be able to plug leaks in the system by streamlining it and ensuring the subsidy goes only to the legitimate user, it is the convoluted process of registering for the scheme that is bugging the general population.

The horror stories of endless queues and how those who stoically stand in one place and shuffle forward in the manner of snails are exacerbated by the  coffee, tea and lunch breaks for the registering staff. And then, of course, there is the ‘problem’ case that holds up the whole process as one customer might not have filled the forms right or spelt out the myriad details required to be filled. How to get him going so the queue can move is a classic management problem that seems to defy solution.

 

Having perfected the art of making the filling of forms a complicated art form akin to solving the Rubik’s cube or the morning’s tough Sudoku, we revel in making any process more painful than it need really be. Throw in the epigrammatic Murphy’s Law and you know something will always go wrong when you are subjected to any longish registration process. They have got past all this in the passport kendras where the staff are so well trained at the reception that they ensure everything is complete before an applicant moves inside to the actual registry.

 

 To have outsourced the process would have been an excellent alternative. But then does a government have the will to spend more on LPG subsidy when it is already cribbing about having to dole out an annual subsidy of about Rs40,000 crore? Truth to tell, the benefits accrue disproportionately to wealthy households in the urban areas while the bottom of the income scale receive little or nothing. Here is an expert comment on the subject – “As currently structured, there is no case for the introduction of Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG on the grounds of equity, administrative efficiency or fiscal responsibility.”

 

Be that as it may, it is still a process that has to be suffered by all those who are entitled to the benefit, which at the moment is just about everybody, be he an Ambani or John Doe trying hard to keep his kitchen fires going. The clever way out seemed to be the very attractive alternative offered by the great powers behind digital India. Go online and register, they said. I did and my seeding request is still being played around like the football in the ISL. There is no knowing when enlightenment will dawn on the system and my request will be registered.

 

For a moment it all seemed very simple, really. A website visit and all the relevant details were punched in at nearly the speed of thought, including taking the captcha test – thank you, yes, we are human. But nothing happened.So went through the whole process again, a few times, if only to see if there would be some kind of acknowledgement. Nothing came up until about the 15th attempt when the computer seemed to take pity on a persevering soul and said ‘seeding request being processed.’ Gosh, what relief, except that in a week there has been no further word on the processing. In the absence of any message, how would you tell the system into which bank account to drop the money?

 

Eureka! An idea – maybe, a human being would be of more help. Rang the gas agency and out came the most reassuring words. “Nothing to worry - Bring in the Form 2 on Dec. 25 and we will take care of the rest.”The promise is yet to be tested but at least the experience reinforces the feeling that even in this highly automated world of computers and captchas – which India is yet to catch up with –human interaction is so essential.

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Location: Tamil Nadu




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