Op-Ed: Chaos rules at Indian embassy in Qatar Special

Posted Jan 14, 2010 by Armstrong Vaz
My visit to the Indian embassy in Qatar revealed shocking details. The first goof-ups I noticed as I stepped in were regarding spellings—compensation was changed to compansation and complaints to comlaints,
how this missed the eye of the officials and the Indian ambassador has baffled me and the score of the Indians who visit the Embassy. Check the photos at the link here---
The embassy was shifted to the new premises last month.
If that was not enough, the language for communication was English, but then Malayalam was for all official purposes the other language used, and notices have been prominently pasted in the embassy premises both in English and Malayalam, sadly not Hindi.
Hindi can be read by scores of Indians from the entire north belt and also people from other parts of India and Pakistan. In recent times with Hindi been taught in all schools in India it can be read by most Indians. But, Malayalam is confined only within the Kerala community.
The prominent use of Malayalam people pointed out is due to the fact that the Indian ambassador although hailing from North India is married to a Mallu.
But, she had been maintaining her dignity of her high office and not gracing new hotel inauguration functions, which her predecessor had been doing on a regular basis.
Chaos ruled at the embassy despite the token system been followed, with people crowding around the counter, with the security personnel being passive spectators.
Rude, arrogant would be mild words to describe the attitude of the staff at the embassy. It starts with the help desk, who dismissed any queries for Indian visas by Nigerians, Pakistanis, Iranians and Yemenis with disdain.
“No visas for Pakistan, Iran, Yemen and Nigerians,” he shouted at the top of his voice as he turned back a Nigerian student who wanted a one-year visa at the Osmania University in Hyderabad.
After going through the Nigerian papers for visa application, the help desk official discovered that instead of clearing the first year at the University, the student had contravened the provisions of the Visa and instead enrolled in another institute.
“This cannot be allowed,” he told the student. “You can do that in your country.”
Later talking to me, the help desk official confirmed that visa norms for all nationals have been tightened.
When questioned, if the greater terror threat and the recent David Coleman Headley fiasco, had made India tighten up the visa procedures, he answered in the affirmative. Headingly, US national of Pakistan origin changed his original Muslim name to Headley to outfox the authorities. He availed of a multiple entry Indian visa and was part of the cell which plotted the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
And, there is more bad news for Indians wishing to register themselves with the Indian embassy in Qatar.
The embassy no longer accepts hand written or email requests for registration Indian nationals in the database of the Indian embassy.
If one of my Goan friend involved with lot of social, cultural and sports organizations in one of the GCC country wrote to me saying: “A simple email or fax to the embassy will do – just state the name, passport number, the company/employer you are working for, Your coordinates (telephone, mobile, fax, email), etc…..
Another way the embassy records is when you have a passport application (for renewal or fresh passport)
There is a column to state if you have registered with the embassy or if you are a part of an association/
Organization known to the embassy. In some GCC countries the Indian mission registers organizations ( a few years ago it was one state, one organization) But this did not work out well, and it has been changed.”
The Indian help desk official, who reverted back to me, informed that the practice has since been discontinued after the computerization of records.
“There is no need to compulsorily register oneself with the Indian embassy, whenever you come to the embassy for any work, your data will be entered in the database,” he informed me.
With prime Minister Manmohan Singh asserting that NRI’s will be given the right to vote, the first step will be register the new NRI voters and also the old NRI voters who have been wiped off from the electoral rolls.
Not only have some of the people who have spent some 27 years in the Gulf been wiped out from the electoral rolls but on by their own account lost touch with Goa. Very sad for this people, they are not keeping themselves tuned with the times, in this current internet and television age when you know every hour what is happening in your back yard, distance and years should not be an excuse to say. “We do not know what is happening in Goa. People back home in Goa are the best judges.”
It will be a huge task to add the new NRI voters and if that task is entrusted with the Indian missions then it will be overburdening the staff.