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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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Them ''Government Approved Forms'' Durable Link to this BLOG
It must have been 1977 or so. It was the beginning of the "Bribery Era" in India. The tax season came and nobody in my part of India could avail the tax forms. The tax collector, a Government official, blessed by Indira Gandhi I must say, figured out that by not making the tax forms available, he would cause a lot of people not to file taxes, which in turn gave him ample opportunities to harass the population, and extract bribes. If you know anything about bribery regimes, it is that the more the opportunity for harassment, more is the opportunity for collecting bribe.

Anyway, so no forms available anywhere and the deadline approached. The Chamber of Commerce in a nearby town convinced a local printer to reproduce the forms (Xerox or Photocopying had not yet arrived in India). I remember standing in a long line and paying two Rupees just to obtain the form.

Aha, but they were not the "Government Approved Forms"! Because they were printed on ordinary paper (the official forms from prior years had a greenish tinge to it), the tax collector refused all the tax returns that year. He and his brother-in-law then took untold amount of bribes to provide tax extensions and distribute the "proper forms".

In this context, you must understand the courage of my father, who told his only customer, The Indian Institute of Science, that he will not follow the "Government Approved Forms" for conducting business. "The only solution for you is to advise your faculty and researchers not to seek my services"-- my father wrote in 1982. What a free spirit!

The "Government Approved Forms" were to take a much uglier avatar in the later years in India before privatization started in 1990s. I particularly recall that the "Government Approved Forms for Application for Loan" were being sold in the black market for as much as Rs. 2000 under the "Loan Festival" (Loan Mela) bribe orgies arranged by Janardhan Poojari.

See more blog entries on My Life in India

Example of a Government Approved Form

I found a picture of a "Government Approved Form" that I took in year 2000 to make a ticket reservation (shown below) from Bangalore to Goa, a distance of 450 miles. It asks for such details as date of birth, gender, local contact address, local telephone number, destination address, destination telephone number, date, time (!), first number of passengers, then their names, where each of the passenger starts and ends the journey, class... It even asks where I will go afater visiting Goa.

Government Form to Book a Train Ticket

(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Wednesday, June 8, 2005
Last Modified: 6/9/2005 8:36:03 AM

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