Venkat Raman –
Following the departure of Ravi Thapar from the post of India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand, discussions in social circles were on his style of working and the deterioration in the quality of services rendered by the diplomatic mission.
Public complaints have a tendency to exaggerate but they also indicate inherent problems. A Radio Tarana debate about three weeks ago prompted Sandeep Sood, Second Secretary and Head of Chancery at the Indian High Commission to issue a public response. We have been obliged to edit the original version for reasons of space but hope that we have retained the original essence of his response in the ensuing paragraphs.
“Former High Commissioner Ravi Thapar has explained to Radio Tarana on air as to how this Mission seeks to function as a ‘service-oriented institution.’ We seek to deliver services within the stipulated time.
“We have often appealed to callers to the High Commission to be brief so as not to hold the telephone traffic. Some callers engage our officials for a considerably long time. We were aware of the frustration caused by such extended conversations and hence set up in January 2015 two email IDs (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com) to cut down on the time consumed over the telephone.
“Mr Thapar also mentioned about other options for addressing the increased consular workload in this Mission. Outsourcing consular services is now being common, although this practice would increase both costs and processing time. Therefore, the Indian High Commission in Wellington has taken a decision on this matter.
“Our website (www.hicomind.org.nz) is a useful resource of information and services. Please try to optimise its usage so that we can serve you better.
As we mentioned during our time on air Radio Tarana, Indian Newslink investigations showed that delays in consular services occur because of improper or inadequate documents submitted by applicants, wrong fee or no fee remitted and impatience, In the case of issue of visas to some applicants, there could be ‘natural delays’ caused by mandatory referrals to other diplomatic missions around the world. New passports and OCI visa stickers are issued in Delhi and hence subject to delays. As for as telephone access, our experience was that it was ‘as bad or as good as’ accessing most services in New Zealand, the most notorious of which are telecoms, some commercial banks and most other large offices.
Former Indian High Commissioner Ravi Thapar