(Based on an article by Monika Halan, consulting editor at Mint and writer on household finance, policy and regulation)
Indian elections have just opened – so, how long does it take to find out if your name is on the Indian electoral role? Go to the Election Commission site, it asks you to SMS to check if your name is on the list—thirty seconds later, you will get a confirmation that your name is or is not there. Things move fast in modern India.
As Monika Halan writes – “Most people get their Provident Fund (PF) balance on SMS too. Also, the passport and visa processes are mostly all automated and keeps us well-informed about the progress of the process.”
So, what else works fast and well in India?
The metro network where it exists, in cities like Delhi and Kochi, is superb.
Getting or renewing a passport used to be a total nightmare a decade back. Enter private sector plus technology and the average time it takes for the passport application process is 30 minutes to under 4 hours. The passport reaches home by courier in a couple of days. At every stage, you get an SMS informing you what will happen next.
What about getting a driving licence? At least in Delhi, the process is mostly painless—online form filling, and 30 minutes to three hours of time in the local office. The licence reaches home in just a few days – according to Monika Halan.
Property registration used to be a nightmare. But Halan says “That again is a breeze. Again, a mix of technology and processes has reduced transaction time and pain hugely.”
Payments is the other huge success story of modern India. Forgetting your wallet at home is no big deal anymore. The money is in the phone. In a wallet, on an app or available through mobile banking. Riding on the backbone built by the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI), transaction options and ease are both world-class.
So how long does it take you to get a Wi-fi connection? How long does it take you to open a bank account? At least in the big metros, a Wi-fi connection happens within a day. Opening a bank account takes lesser time. The average time for these services in most developed countries is much longer. In most of Europe, for instance, it takes at least a month to get both these services.
Modern India is fast. Click on “buy” at 11pm and hear the doorbell ring at 9am the next morning.
A huge shift has happened in India and even Indians have failed to notice. The mix of technology, competition and cheap labour – plus reformist governments – means modern India has some of the simplest and fastest processes in the world.
All of this in just over a decade.
Time to catch up with what is really happening in modern India?