My birth certificate needs investigation…

I’m not sure how I should feel about this. Today, I was at the German embassy in New Delhi to get some paperwork done. I had along a copy of my birth certificate and my passport and a legal document from Cyprus. They accepted the document from Cyprus, but when looking at my birth certificate they paused. “This needs to be investigated,” said the lady at the counter. I frowned at that. That’s a birth certificate which states the date and place of my birth, along side my parents’ names. The same information was in my passport and pretty much every legal document I carry. After some back and forth a senior person came along and explained. “We stopped accepting Indian documents 12 years ago. I’m sure you understand. With the level of fraud in India, the German government has decided to stop accepting these documents. Our consul nearest to your birthplace will have to investigate this issue.”

My birth certificate was suspect. Every paper that I consider as proof was suspect. Any document I could procure held no validity. The world stood stock still for a moment as I tried to digest this bit of news. “But I’ve visited Germany several times,” I lamented. “Isn’t my passport an identity proof?” It appears that while they accept it for brief stays if I were to interact with the local legal system in Germany, I’d need to prove my identity all over again. Because I’m Indian. Because, my government has let me down. It has allowed rampant corruption and fraud to erode every shred of credibility in the proofs one could procure.

Maybe the Germans are being paranoid, but certainly the fact that this is allowed to continue as an accepted mode of operation tells me that the Indian government is helpless to address or solve the problem. And it has failed to do so for over 12 years! I think I’ve discovered a new level of shame. Mera Bharat Mahaan.

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