Recently I had to get Import Export Code (IEC) for two private investment companies that I handle. Long back, if I recall correctly I had applied for IEC in late 90’s. It used to be a small process but I was then working out of an industrial town 100 Kms away from Madras and with very dicey communications.
The one challenge used to be to get a letter from Bank, which again was 30 Kms away. After locating the latest version of the form and the draft letter and after negotiating with the bank, we would ultimately get the letter. It was a small ordeal just to register.
Now with internet connectivity and the e-governance model in place for some time things have improved considerably. The form is available online. But the server of DGFT (Chennai?) turned out to be extremely slow. Most cumbersome procedures like bank letter has been dispensed with. Scanned copy of a cancelled cheque, only rider (necessary) being that the cheque has to have the name of the account holder pre-printed can be uploaded.
But the real challenge was the digital signature. While we routinely affix digital signatures for MCA and Income Tax purposes, we took nearly a week to solve the intricacies of DGFT site. The problem was the server was using an out-dated version of windows and equally out-dated version of Java. Then the next challenge. After a two day gap I kept verifying the site but it just said that the form had not been uploaded. Fortunately my office is just opposite the Chennai DGFT and I could visit them once daily. But after a week I became frustrated. More than 2 weeks had gone since I started the process.
Out of sheer desperation I tweeted to MoS Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman very late on a Friday evening. There was no response to my tweet. But surprisingly, on Sunday evening I received a tweet from DGFT, Delhi with request to send details to them by mail. I did so on Sunday evening itself. Monday was a holiday on account of Ganesh Chaturthi. Conditioned to Government departments working slow, I checked the site only on Wednesday. To my pleasant surprise the forms had been cleared on Tuesday. Unfortunately, in one case I had given different bank accounts in different places in case of one company and the form was rejected for that company.
My ordeal started again. I had to struggle for more than 10 days now to affix the digital signature. Having crossed that barrier, I was overwhelmed by what I thought would be the bigger barrier. But to my most pleasant surprise, the next day morning I received an email confirmation that the form had been accepted and IEC generated. My next worry was that the IEC had to be updated with DGFT Delhi and the Customs portal. But again by evening both had happened.
I could see a visible transformation in a matter of a month in the way things were handled. It is easy to blame the Government for every minor fault. And certainly things could be better. But what we need to realise is that Government consists of people like you and me. They cannot be better than us.
We need to improve as a society, as a nation.
I realise that there is a leadership in place that will reciprocate it.
Mera desh badal raha hai!
PS: Thanks to Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman and few others who made this possible