NEW DELHI: Over several months, Raja Sivaram, a financial consultant in Kerala, knocked on many doors to get Aadhaar cards for his aged parents, who weren’t physically mobile enough to be able to visit an enrolment centre. He tried through various channels to get this done at home but to no avail.
Last Thursday, an exasperated Sivaram wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office. On Sunday morning, an Aadhaar team arrived at his residence in Palakkad, with a computer, webcam, fingerprinting machine and an eye scanner to record the biometrics of his 90-year-old father and 83-year-old mother.
“It was a simply amazing experience… I wanted to shift with my parents from Palakkad to Coimbatore but they have no identity documents of their own. I hence wanted to get them an Aadhaar card before we shift out… Last Thursday, I wrote to PM and within three days, it was all done,” Sivaram told ET on the phone from Palakkad.
“I am shifting to Coimbatore today with my parents and they promise that I will get an online copy of the Aadhaar cards in a week’s time and physical copies in a month,” he said. Sivaram is one among lakhs of citizens who have successfully approached the Centre to resolve their grievances since Narendra Modi took over in May 2014.
According to Jitendra Singh, minister of state for PMO, the government received eight lakh citizen grievances last year and resolved 6.8 lakh out of them, while the rest are pending for purely technical reasons. During the UPA government years, only about 2 lakh grievances came to the Centre yearly, he said.
“People (during the UPA regime) did not hope that complaints will be solved and saw little purpose in lodging them,” Singh told ET. “Under us, four times the number of grievances than earlier came last year, which shows people’s trust in promptness of the Modi government.”
The prime minister is leading the drive. At his monthly PRAGATI meeting on Wednesday, Modi told secretaries to ensure “top-level monitoring” of all citizen grievances. The initiative is clearly adding to Modi’s popularity. “I want to thank the PM and his team from the bottom of my heart. A common man’s plea was heard within three days and this would give many people hope,” said Sivaram.
He had got an email with a complaint number within minutes of writing to the PMO on January 21, and in the next 24 hours he got four phone calls from the Aadhaar processing centre in Bengaluru asking for his address. On Saturday, January 23, the local Aadhaar centre called him to say its representatives would be at his home on Sunday at 11 am.
“As promised, two persons came on Sunday with all the paraphernalia, set up the computer and other scanners, filled up the forms and took biometrics —all in an hour’s time,” he said. PMO minister Singh narrated a recent incident in which a retired colonel approached the PMO with a complaint, saying his 89-year-old mother was not getting the family pension after his father, a retired superintending engineer in CPWD, passed away in 2014 at the age of 94.
“This was despite his father writing in 2010 to the department of pensions to include his wife’s name for family pension in the event he passed away. But the wife’s name was not registered for it,” Singh said. After receiving his grievance, Singh called up the colonel and assured him that the pension will restart soon. “His father drew a pension of Rs 40,000 and the wife was entitled to a pension of Rs 25,000 per month. I ordered that the papers be sent to the bank the same day,” Singh said.
A letter sent subsequently by the colonel to the PMO mentions how he did not even know that the person who called him was the minister of state. “I looked up the website to realise Jitendra Singh was the MoS, PMO. I called back to thank the minister himself who told me that it was the PM’s directive that no woman who has lost her husband recently should be further traumatised by delayed paperwork on pensions,” the letter said.