Life without mobile phone!
Posted June 22, 2013on:
I have survived, at least till now, without a mobile phone. The government, though, is hell-bent upon making me realise through its agencies that I have forfeited my right to be a worthy citizen of this country (which, incidentally, is the only country in the world with two official names, India and Bharat).
I was first made aware of my shortcoming by some organisations which wanted to put me or keep me on their mailing lists for sending press releases or publicity material. After getting or checking my postal address, the woman (yes, it is a woman in most of the cases) would ask me about my mobile number. “What, you don’t have a mobile”, she would exclaim on hearing my response. It amused me more than annoyed me.
I received first real shock from the India Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC). I have been booking tickets on the IRCTC site almost from the time when it started the service. It was going very well. Then one day a friend, who doesn’t have an account on IRCTC, asked me to book a ticket for his parents and other family members for Ujjain where they were going to worship at Mahakal temple.
To my horror, I found IRCTC would not book the ticket till I went to the settings and inserted my mobile number at the allotted slot. As I was at my friend’s service, I punched in my friend’s mobile number. Even that was not enough, IRCTC wanted the code which it said had been sent on the mobile.
I emailed to IRCTC. It claimed that mobile number had been made mandatory for my own convenience as the booking-related information would now be sent to me through SMS. My argument that I was well enough without this convenience as I was getting all the information on my email had no effect. I then emailed to the Railway Board and sent an email even to then Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi but got no reply.
I am not a regular visitor to Facebook but I know about its potential. So I posted on Facebook my complaint about IRCTC making mobile phone mandatory for e-ticketing. I was expecting a big public outcry about this injustice. But to my disappointment, only one person, Parvesh Sharma, commented on it. He, too, did so probably because he happens to be my nephew.
The census man, after obtaining the requisite information and filling scores of columns in the form, asked about my mobile number. When I said that I had only a landline telephone, he was visibly puzzled. There was a column for a mobile number but no column for a landline number. But he was considerate to me mainly, I suspect, for two reasons. One, he was drawn from agriculture department and finding this thankless job a bit irksome. Secondly and more importantly, he was treated at most of the households roughly. Only that morning, he was rudely told by an assistant professor to come some other time as she was busy at the moment. I had, on the other hand, not only made him feel at home but inquired about his regular work and the problems in his office. In view of my friendly manner, I suspect, he allowed me to write my landline phone number in the column meant for mobile number.
I had to face the same problem when I went for my Aadhar Card. The form for Aadhar Card also had no column for landline phone number but only for mobile number. The young man, who was processing the registration, when told that I did not own a mobile, looked at me with a curious expression which I could not decipher. For once, I thought that he was going to turn me down with the remark that one who does not possess a mobile does not deserve an Aadhar Card. Probably out of compassion, he proceeded to complete the registration and wrote against mobile number “not given” instead of “not owned” which I wanted him to put down.
Ironically, the form for Aadhar Card has space only for mobile number but it accepts for proof of residence the bill for the landline telephone only.