Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect

For several years, my mother and I had a joint bank account with her as the first account holder but with me doing the actual operating of the account. A few months ago, we shifted our rented accommodation and I went across to the bank to inform them of the changes. It was then that I discovered how the world is changing and how complicated even every day transactions are becoming.   


The bank told me that as required by the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, it was now was required to abide by Know Your Customer norms and have us a sheaf of forms and paper work to fill that would help the bank “know” us, though we had been its customers for years. While going through the forms, I discovered the knots and tangles. The bank required proof of identity and proof of address and my 77 old mothers had none. She wasn’t a tax payer, so no PAN Card. She didn’t drive so no drivers’ license. She doesn’t go abroad, so no passport. She doesn’t draw food grains from the Public Distribution System, so, no ration card. 


 Because she did vote, she had a Voter’s ID which was a proof of identity but then since we had just moved house, the address had changed. There was no hope of changing the address ever, as the other options offered by the bank as proof of address such as a phone bill or an electricity bill or a lease deed didn’t work for my mother. In spite of the bank staff knowing all this, they could not do much as they were limited by Reserve Bank of India mandated regulations and till date the address remains unchanged. It is then that as a common citizen that I sat down and cursed the Harshad Mehtas and Ketan Parekhs of the world whose actions have brought such misery into our lives. 


Then the other day, my wife’s pre paid mobile connection blinked out. She could not make any calls but only receive them. A call to the customer care centre revealed that the telecom company had introduced KYC norms under a directive from the Home Ministry and once again the familiar bunch of papers had to be dug out and presented. Once again there was nothing to do but clench our teeth and curse the terrorists who use SIM cards to detonate bombs and use disposable mobiles to communicate among themselves and in the process make life so difficult for every one else. And you run into KYC in all kinds of unexpected situations. The other day I purchased a lap top and paid for it by credit card. Before processing it, the shop wanted to see proof of identity and address. The back ground – rising numbers of credit card frauds. 


There was a time when all you needed to do to open a bank account was to walk into the bank and ask. The bank would typically ask for an introduction from an existing account holder and some times not even that. These days, you need to produce all these papers as proof and in a bewildering maze; they are all connected to each other. A telephone bill serves as a proof of address but to apply for a phone, you need some other proof of address, possibly a lease deed for the house you live in. Now it used to be that if you wanted to rent a house in Delhi, you contacted the neighborhood property dealer or scanned the newspaper classifieds. You met the house owner and both of you liked each other and the rent was acceptable, you moved in. But now the police recommend prior verification of tenants and their antecedents. Since often if some thing untoward happens and the tenants scoot, the police go after the house owners go after them, many do not wish to take chances. 


Most of us grew up thinking and still think that the world of dons and Bhais and organized crime is some kind of a distant phenomena and the closest encounter we have with them is on the Bollywood screen and the television screen. That is unfortunately not the case! Every time we enter into some kind of a transaction – buy a car or a house or some other high value item or even some thing as simple as a gas or phone connection, we need to produce proof of who we are and where we live , making the simplest things of life cumbersome and complicated. And that is where we the common man has been felled by the dons of organized crime whom we never see but whose tentacles have pervaded the smallest details of our every day life. 

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