Posted by: cochinblogger | February 16, 2013

The Certificate Industry

My eye caught the following headline in The Hindu this morning: “Ernakulam to Turn e-District.” Here, see for yourself: Ernakulam to Turn e-District

Visits to government offices for certificates will apparently become a thing of the past. Applications for certificates will be digitally processed by Akshaya centers, and the applicant will be informed by SMS. This is an excellent idea, as I’ve been visiting the Cochin Corporation offices for my birth certificate and have seen the milling crowds. Also, I regularly pay bills at the FRIENDS office in the Jawaharlal Stadium in Kaloor, because the process is fast and multiple utility bills can be paid at the same counter. So, again, I’ve to compliment the powers that be on launching a public-friendly initiative.

But it is high time to rationalize the application procedure for these certificates too. Just to get my birth certificate, I’m having to write letters to sundry officials presiding over their certificate fiefdoms in both Cochin and Trivandrum and fill multiple forms. Even my father has to write a letter to Trivandrum. It’s more onerous than filing my tax returns. In fact, the clerk at the counter, after explaining what I should write in the first three letters, said, “This will do for now. Write these and come another day, and I’ll explain the next steps then.” And this after they have recorded my birth in their register! There’s many a slip between the register and the certificate.

Now, take a look at the list of certificates covered under the scheme, as reported in the e-newspaper:

  1. caste certificate,
  2. residential certificate,
  3. identity certificate,
  4. relationship certificate,
  5. nativity certificate,
  6. succession certificate,
  7. liability certificate,
  8. domicile certificate,
  9. income certificate,
  10. possession certificate, etc.

The list stops here in the online edition of the newspaper, but the hard copy edition, which is presumably made of sterner stuff, gives the complete list:

  1. community certificate,
  2. possession and non-attachment certificate,
  3. inter-caste marriage certificate,
  4. life certificate,
  5. valuation certificate,
  6. widower/widow certificate,
  7. religious/caste conversion certificate,
  8. destitute certificate,
  9. dependant certificate,
  10. certificate that a person has not married again, and
  11. family member certificate.

Imagine the administrative burden these certificates create! Someone should look into whether they are all necessary. My personal favorite from the above list is the destitute certificate. I wonder what benefits and entitlements flow from that certificate, and how many destitutes in need of the certificate would be allowed inside the Cochin Corporation premises by the security staff. The life certificate is to prove that the certificate holder is alive, and the possession certificate proves that the certificate holder is possessed by a spirit of uncertain provenance. I wonder how a person can establish that he or she has not married again. Why is the “certificate that a person has never married” missing from the list?

Which is your favorite certificate? 🙂



  1. Yikes. As a USian, I never realized how certificate-deficient I am. My dog has more certificates than I do: registration certificate, rabies vaccination certificate, license certificate, and a bunch of award certificates. My favorite certificate is a gift certicate to a favorite store. They don’t stick around long.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: