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What’s in a name?!

August 11, 2017

What's in a name!Who is that guy who said, ‘what’s in a name?’ I would like him to help some of my colleagues with linking their PAN and Aadhaar.

I was named Govind, without any controversy in the family since both my grand-fathers were Govinds             (one was  I N Govinda Menon and the other P Govinda Menon). Later when it was time to join me in school they registered me as P R Govind, the initials standing for the maternal ‘tharavadu’ name and my father’s name. So I grew up, completed my schooling and graduation as P R Govind, while my classmates and teachers called me PRG mostly and also other unmentionable names, from time to time.

After graduation, I set out into the wild world, looking for a job amongst other things. And soon enough I became a medical representative.  The first thing that my senior, who was to induct me, did was to open a bank account for me. We used to receive tour advances from the company by DD twice a month. The first one with the salary and the other one around the 15th of the month. With my senior, who already had an account in the bank being the ‘introducer’, the opening of the bank account happened in no time. The name in the account was P R Govind, the same as in my appointment letter, my application for the job, my business card, my graduation certificate and my mark sheets.

By and by my income increased augmented with raises and incentives for completing budgets/targets and I needed to pay income tax. They said I needed to have a Permanent Account Number (PAN for short). The application for the PAN wouldn’t let me write my name as P R Govind. It wanted me to ‘expand’ the initials. And so I became Perumpulavil Ramachandran Govind on the PAN card. Even now I am not very clear about what first name, middle name or surname really means. For the Indian passport they had also asked for my given name not realizing that I am used to taking names and never to giving.  I used to be scared if I was filling up my name the correct way in all the official forms till I understood recently that nobody gave a damn.  The PAN became one of the important documents as proof of identity but if you look at my photograph in the PAN card, and even if you had a vivid imagination you wouldn’t be able to imagine it is me. Copies of it were given for getting personal loan, home loan vehicle loan, opening bank accounts, getting mobile connection and such. And soon enough half of India was having my details. Soon I was inundated with calls from customer care executives wanting to speak to Perumpulavil, the Perpumpulavil pronounced in myriad ways the mind can conjure up. One, even wanted to speak to Perumal, but that is another story fit for the next post (when it will see the light of day, only god can tell).

Everything was hunky-dory till the government found out there were more PAN than the national population. They decided to have the foolproof identity based on one’s finger prints and retinal scans. That was the foundation for Aadhaar.  First they said that to get any government subsidy, Aadhaar was necessary. Since I wasn’t getting any subsidy from the government I didn’t bother to apply for the same. At the work place I was hearing horror stories of how one had to spend the whole day waiting to be fingerprinted and have their retinae scanned. So I was happy that I had given a go by to all the trouble. By and by the government turned on the heat. They wanted the Aadhaar to be linked to the PAN, to the Bank accounts, Provident Fund accounts to the mobile numbers and to a host of other ridiculous things, except the voter’s card, as that might shrink everyone’s vote bank. There is a joke going around of a mother rushing into the hospital with her 5 year old son saying that he had swallowed the PAN card. The doctor after the initial investigation says, we will make him swallow the Aadhaar and only when both are linked can the surgery be done.

So I was arm twisted into visiting the enrolment center with my aged mother, aging wife and my younger son. The elder one is working in Bangalore. After numerous visits to the enrolment center, due to non-availability of forms, non-availability of the person taking the finger prints, non-availability of person scanning the retinae, non-availability of electric power and you will not believe it, due to the non-availability of toner in the printer, we managed to get the bio-metry done and also an acknowledgement to that effect. By that time I was preparing to chuck my job, close all bank accounts, throw my mobile phone away and to lead a life of an ascetic, as it seemed like there will be no normal life without Aadhaar. To the government’s credit they sent us our Aadhaar card in quick time. Never had my mug looked recognizable in all the various government issued cards. The name on my Aadhaar card was P R Govind.

Before I proceed further let me take a small detour which will take us to the art of form filling. The forms were a mile long. I spread them on our dining table and like a General on the war front strategizing his troop movements I noted down what all needs to be filled and where. And then with the dexterity of a rice carver sculpting a Taj Mahal on a grain of rice I proceeded to fill the tiny invisible boxes with my name and that of the family, their date of births, their age, their relation to me, their educational qualifications, their marital status. It would have taken about an hour and a half to complete. Not a single dot had gone over the boxes. I felt like how the General would have felt if he had won the war based on his strategies. Why am saying this? Recently my colleague was pressurized by our HR to give his Aadhaar number, because they were pressurized by the Provident Fund office. He had not enrolled because he is a frequent traveler and when he is not travelling he is planning for his next travel. He wanted me to accompany him, as he was not familiar with our city as he is familiar with the cities he travels to. So I went along. They gave him a form which he couldn’t fill as it was in Tamil. He gave me the form but I wasn’t able to fill them either. It would have been a quite a task without the dining table and sufficient light as I don’t wear spectacles even though I need them very badly. If you want to know the reason it is somewhere in the tomes of literature I have dished out on this blog. All you have to do is google ‘I don’t wear glasses satmuse’ and you will find the answer. For the rest who say ‘WTF’ read on. So with both of us not being able to fill up the form, an altruistic gentleman in the enrolment center directed us to a facilitator, sitting outside the Center, who would help us fill the form for a reasonable charge of 20 bucks, of which the altruistic gentleman would get a share. The facilitator asked for my colleagues name, mobile phone number, residential address and scribbled them across the form in random, not bothering  to filling them up in the boxes provided and asked my colleague to sign on the dotted lines. I was baffled as it took him just a couple of minutes to do this and to think that I had spent an hour and a half to do the same thing. So the next time you have to fill some official forms don’t dwell on the niceties, because frankly nobody gives a crap.

Coming back to the linking of my Aadhaar Number with my PAN, as was necessitated for filing of Income Tax returns. I filled in the Aadhaar number and PAN to the income tax website, but a message flashed that the name in the PAN database does not match with name on the Aadhaar. I know that because on the PAN it is Perumpulavil Ramachandran Govind and on the Aadhaar it is P R Govind. I was suggested to change the name in either one of the document to match with the other, knowing fully well that I cannot have initials on the PAN card. This means that I needed to change the Aadhaar to match the PAN. I was surely not going to go through all the trouble again. Instead I tried linking the Aadhaar with the PAN a couple of times, every day and was met with the same result. I kept on doing this for a week and one day the linking happened. No suggestion to change the name or anything. Even as I write this, there are people in my company who are desperately trying to link both the documents. I don’t know how mine happened. I don’t think it was because of Technical Intelligence of the website. I had a suspicion that it is the Artificial Intelligence that took pity on me after seeing my tireless efforts for almost a week. The recent shutting down by Facebook of the Artificial Bots, since they were communicating in their own language, only confirms my doubt.

The story doesn’t end here ladies and gentlemen. A couple of months after we got the Aadhaar, we had to shift to another house. No, it was not because my wife didn’t like the neighbours or because she couldn’t stand the landlady’s attitude, it was more concrete this time. Due to some structural defect in the building, there was more water inside the house than outside when it rained. After moving to the new house, the only proof of residence at the new place was the telephone bill provided by the BSNL. So I proceeded to apply for change of address online at the UIDAI website. After completing the online application for the whole family (to match the details provided in English with that of the regional language, Tamil in my case, was so interesting that I didn’t realize that the whole afternoon had passed. You should try it sometime), I proceeded to upload the scanned copy of the telephone bill. The uploading of the applications was accepted with a Unique Registration Number for each of the family member, with an advice to check on the status of the application the next day.  On the next day, it turned out that only my application had been accepted. The others’ were rejected due to incorrect Proof of Address (POA). The telephone bill was in my name. Though my son’s application stated him to be S/O P R Govind and my wife’s as W/O of P R Govind, their applications were rejected. I called up the customer care of the UIDAI and spoke to a gentle man about my problem. He heard me through and told me that the POA should be in the applicant’s name. I don’t know if it is possible to have a telephone bill with all the family members’ name incorporated in it.  I went to our bank to change the address in the joint account my wife and I have, so that we could use that as POA for my wife. The Manager said that he needs to have our Aadhaar for changing the address. I told him that we wanted the change the address so that we can change the address on our Aadhaar. He clearly didn’t understand what I was saying or he pretended not to. Luckily my son had an account in another bank and luckily again there was a sensible person who understood what I was saying and helped me with the change of address. So my son too could change the address on his Aadhaar. My wife’s still hangs in balance. I have to find another way out.

I have a few questions for which I need some answers. When such a major assignment as having an Unique Identity for its population is initiated, wouldn’t there be one single person on the planning committee who would be able to foresee the problems that might arise out of demographic differences? Wouldn’t there be one single soul who could point out that there are people in our country who do not have surnames and have initials instead? Similarly isn’t there one person with common sense, who can say one POA is enough for the entire family?  I read in the papers that a few Pakistanis had managed to get Aadhaar for something as less as Rs.100. I also read that somebody had hacked into the UIDAI website and stole details. Though the government denies that nothing was stolen, there is a fear of what we got ourselves into. Is it safe? Will privacy be ensured? Can our information be misused? Is privacy still our Fundamental Right

And when the entire population of the country is coerced into enrolling for the Aadhaar, I chanced upon a prominent member of the ruling party say he wouldn’t enroll himself. https://youtu.be/i3lV3VTn8KE   I would like to know if he has or has not. If he has not how did he file his Income tax returns? Or is he not required to?

By the way, if you know the guy who wrote ‘what’s in a name?, just drop me a line.

Video courtesy: NewsX

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. KNMenon permalink
    August 11, 2017 17:39

    Good, Govind.Keep it up.

  2. S Venkata Ramana permalink
    August 12, 2017 10:56

    I heard long ago that there is a place, where individual’s only ID is a Unique Number.No Name. No Father’s Name, No address. It’s the only proof in govt Enrolment till the end of one’s life. They get everything with the help of Number. I think GOI wants to transform all of us in such system.but we have to take birth 2-3 times to see it in this form only…
    Good one Govind Sir…

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