Recently, this reporter visited the State Consumer Commission’s office to collect data for a report. After the customary hour-long wait outside the department head’s office, she was directed to another room, where an official incharge was to pass on the necessary details from the records ‘maintained’.
With heaps of dustladen files in various sizes– the mere sight of which made the reporter pull out a handkerchief for protection — the room resembled a newspaper morgue. The official waded through the pile of files, occasionally glancing at the reporter apologetically for the delay. After summoning a few more staff — each one carrying out their own exercise to fish out the information—he turned to the lone mainframe system in the room that probably dated back to the 90s.
He said, pointing to the system, “We don’t have an Internet connection for almost 20 days now and the data is still not updated.” He added that he needed a day’s time to do some basic maths.
“Can you come tomorrow, ma’am?” he asked. “I will give you all the details,” he said, while the reporter had no choice but to agree. The next day, after disappearing for lunch for almost half an hour, the official returned to his seat. “Just give me an hour,” he said. Sitting at a table and surrounded by records for the last two years, he scribbled out some numbers and calculations.
Relieved that it was worth the wait, the reporter thanked him profusely. “See, our Internet connection is yet to be restored, but the paper records saved our day,” he said, rather triumphantly. — Janani Sampath, Chennai