Long years ago, I went to the Regional Transport Office twice – the first time to get my two-wheeler driving license, and the second, to get my car driving license. Both are still valid, which means, in theory, that I can drive a car anytime I go to India, if I am feeling particularly brave, that is.
Both licenses were obtained through a driving school. I would have had to go through the driving school to learn car driving anyway, but for the two wheeler license, the driving school was just an expensive way to circumvent the long delays at the RTO, not to mention the bribes that needed to be given. The Driving School’s main job really was to take care of the bribe-giving and smooth the process. I still had to get my Learner License, and pass the driving test, everything I would have done otherwise. This was in Chennai, though, and one always hears anecdotes about RTOs in other states/ cities where you don’t have to take any test, or have to just show up on test day, to get a license. The RTO, after all, is a part of the State Government, so the rules, or at least the level of enforcement of the rules, can very well vary from state to state. I had one colleague who couldn’t get a car license in Delhi (his right hand was afflicted by polio), so he went to Bihar, where he apparently did not need to take a test. He drove well enough, and with power steering and automatic transmission, I don’t see why his driving one-handed was a problem for the RTO, but I suppose India is still not disabled-friendly in many ways.
But coming back to RTO corruption, if this blog post on India Ink is any indication, nothing has changed – you still need a Driving School to smooth your way in the RTO. The blog post talks circumspectly about the RTO “maze” and “drudgery” – there is no maze except the hierarchy of bribe-giving that’s involved.
It’s surprising, though, that nothing has changed. It is common knowledge that the RTO is one of the most corrupt parts of Government. It is also one of those Government departments which deal with the public on a daily basis.
Given all the anti-corruption movements and the mood of the people, I’m assuming that both Central and State governments are doing something about reducing corruption. If they are, shouldn’t the RTO be one of the first places they start with?
Has anyone found that RTOs have actually become less corrupt, or are things still the same ?