By Sumeet Kaur:
Almost no one can make it through college without running into at least one major paperwork problem. India is probably the only country in the world where the bureaucracy is not at all accountable. It is shameful but we are plagued by a lot of bureaucracy and corruption. Be it a driving license or a passport or a basic citizenship document that you want to get made, you have to run from pillar to post. These very common examples indicate that there is definitely some sort of obstacle in the way and something is wrong with the governance. Besides these daily issues, the Rs 1000 crore Nirbhaya fund sanctioned by the government is also caught in bureaucratic red tape. There is no clarity as to which ministry, between the ministries of finance, home and women and child development should be tasked with the administrative charge of the fund.
The common conception of ‘red tape‘ is routinely used to describe just about anything that doesn’t work well or is wasteful in the government, the administrative departments in various schools and colleges are no exception. Red tapism is ruining India in each and every sector and thus hindering our growth. Owing to the huge amount of red tapism, the students on a day to day basis have to face various kinds of problems, be it getting sanctions, permissions or approvals. Most development and administrative work in government schools and colleges proceeds at a very slow pace due to budgetary shortage and delaying tactics on behalf of the bureaucracy. Different colleges face problems like shortage of funds for basic facilities, renovation of buildings and other requirements. Delays in the reimbursement of funds and the delays in theÂ regularizationÂ of employees is taking its toll on the different colleges and is the main cause of unrest among the employees and the students. I am sure there is plenty of money floating around that has been sanctioned, but it is all tied up in red tape. Nobody knows which department should pay for which project, and so matters get delayed all the more.
A separate administrative structure exists in almost all academic institutions. Academic administration is a branch of the university and the college employees are responsible for its maintenance and supervision. Let us have a quick glance at some of the responsibilities of the administrative departments — admissions, supervision of academic affairs such as hiring, promotion, tenure, and evaluation, maintenance and construction of campus buildings, maintenance of official records, safety and security of students and campus property, looking into student activities, fundraising from private individuals and foundations, maintenance and audit of financial flows and records etc. are amongst few of their tasks at hand. Red tape works differently in every college, but there are ways to cut through it. And the truth is that if you learn to cope with bureaucracy in college, you’ll be better equipped to face the challenges in life when you enter the outside world. We have to find the way out and it is possible to get things done. Administrators are willing to listen to students though it may take a while for changes to take place. Every individual college student is just one student, probably among thousands, and it’s my personal experience to feel unnoticed by a huge, impersonal campus administration.
“We are unable to pay for routine things or meet the basic needs of the college and have to meet expenses through the college fund,” said a college staff member. There are times when refresher courses are cancelled by the academic staff at colleges as the funds from the University Grants Commission do not arrive on time. A common problem faced by school and college students is related to delay in the availability of character certificates, transfer certificates, migration certificates, N.O.C’s etc. Parents blame the administration for not providing eligibility certificates to students. If some students wish to take admission in the second year in another college and for that they need to collect their original documents, they are made to run from pillar to post for many days. The parents also face an unresponsive administration in this matter. The basic problem is that when the students or parents approach the management with any queries, the authorities or the concerned persons either keep deferring all replies to a later date or they are on leave or transferred and this results in further aggravating the problem. At times, school and college authorities are found ‘deliberately‘ delaying the process and not returning the original documents as they will be losing out on an admission in their respective college. The authorities know very well that in the absence of the original documents, a student cannot seek admission anywhere else. The trouble is, no matter what you want to do in college, you’ll always have to deal with paperwork.
A word of advice: as a student, you need not be intimidated when you step into the office of your own college. You are required to be patient, be polite, ask a lot of questions, and try to find out ways to get your work done. Maybe not quickly, but if it is a reasonable request, you should be successful. It is important to remember that the job of the people in offices is to help you. We need to accept the fact that colleges cannot be run in the absence of the admin. offices and paperwork, in fact, we need a lot of them. If you, as a student, want to start a club activity or a workshop or organize a college fest, you’ll have to get Form A from Office X, and get it signed by Mr. B and Dean Z. If you want to do something else, you’ll need Prof. Y’s permission, and approval from Prof. D who works in Building H etc.
The Indian youth has to find out ways to cut down on red tape, something which at present seems like an uphill task. We need to bring about a change and contribute for the future so that things shape up well and our country turns out as a better place to live in.