Tuesday, December 22, 2009


What? you ask. Bangalore's public works departments' response times.


When Rohan was born, the third night apparently Subhash came home from Cradle to a "power-less" house. He was not sure how long it had been gone. UPS was running strong still, so he put it off, slept, and in the morning when there was still no power, simply looked up some BESCOM numbers and came back to us at Cradle after lodging a complaint.

The BESCOM guys were so responsive that we were impressed. They called a bunch of times saying they fixed some feeder issue and if power was restored. None of us was at home so we couldn't confirm. That night Subhash went back to a flooded, dark  house thanks to no power, no UPS (it ran out after two days) and the fridge condensing out all its ice. He called BESCOM again and this time they actually sent someone and got the whole thing fixed in half an hour's time. There is a bunch of reasons why this is impressive -- 1) Problem was isolated to our house, so they didn't really have hundreds of angry residents wreaking havoc. Just one guy calling and complaining. 2) It was 11 in the night. 3) Some reasonably senior folks called to make sure power was restored and the complaint was attended to satisfactorily.

I was just happy since we didn't have to come home with Rohan for the first time to a powerless situation.

This morning again there was no power from 7. I complained at 9.30. They called me at 10.45 asking if power was restored. It had. I asked what the issue was and it was some cursed feeder again! But what promptness again. Consistently prompt service is one thing I never expected to get from BESCOM or any power supply board for that matter.


We were having no Cauvery supply for the past 7 months and were depending largely on our borewell motor plus a generous supply of tankers. I managed to befriend a BWSSB tanker guy and the poor chap would regularly show up when called with Cauvery water so all was going smooth except for the pain of having to take tanker wanter, monitor water levels etc.

Then one day I decided to take a chance and check if BWSSB would be willing to fix it (you hear so much negative press on government guys, you don't think it is worth it to try). Plus it was in the papers that this area will have water pressure issues because of all the digging up in Indiranagar-CMH road for the Bangalore Metro. But that was in April and it was already 6 months since that. So I called them and they gave me a local inspector number. His personal mobile that too!! He said they were having some pressure problem and would send a tanker if needed. I assured him that this problem was not recent and he said he'd look into it. Since that day (maybe in early October) to now, we have been having a good healthy supply of Cauvery water ;) Maybe I should've complained sooner, eh? We have too much distrust in the local bodies simply!

POLICE (Airport Road Police Station)

There was a burglary recently. Late September maybe. Apparently someone came in a truck to a working couple's house, emptied all its contents and left. Neighbors thought they were moving out. We didn't know anything till we saw a Police jeep come by, then some cops on bikes, making enquiries at different homes etc. From then on we've regularly been seeing at least one Police SUV parked around the colony regularly. And cops going on bikes. Apparently Subhash's mom hears them on beats all night. They have also put up "Beware of Burglars" stickers all over the colony. I am impressed. I didn't know the Police were so serious in nabbing thieves.

So there, I am happy with the power supply folks, with the water supply folks and the police. These guys are doing a great job. I am sure their JDs didn't exactly call out for so much promptness and customer service. So often we think complaining is useless, that we miss out on the chance to give the good guys a run when they are actually listening. Considering that the government doesn't exactly run on performance-based stuff like we private employees are used to, I am sure there is not much incentive for these guys to do a job well. But they toil. And yet they receive so little good press. Let's raise a toast for these guys!


kj_india said...

Hi Divsu

I have been following ur blog for quite some time. I am planning to R2I to bangalore in 2010. I have MS in US and 10 years of industry experience in a reputed MNC of semiconductor industry. any idea regarding th kind of salary that I can expect in bangalore ?

Umang said...

It is extremely likely that you will get me wrong on this but still here goes:

While I appreciate all these people making efforts to deliver prompt service but isn't that what they are paid to do? Have your expectations from utility services fallen so low that if a person fixes the power issue after 3-4 attempts, it is called exceptional service? or if you get some routine work (from a govt. servant) in first or second attempt, then it is really great of them??? I know it is tough to get things done in India without paying a bribe but praise should be reserved for people who go out of their way to offer exceptional service (beyond what their job requires). Just my 2c... Ready for your flames now. :)

DivSu said...

@kj_india - No idea about semi conductor industry. If you can tell me which companies you are looking at I can try and put you in touch with anyone I know in there.

@Umang - I wonder why you think I would flame? Typical Umang-speak? Women, anger, etc? :)

Well, if you think that citizens have high expectations from public works departments in India, clearly you have been outside for way too long. But then, expectations is besides the point here. Irrespective of my expectations, the people involved did a commendable job. Considering that we are always too eager to bad-mouth the government, we need to make hat effort to give them a pat on the back when they do a good job.

Also, I don't think anyone took 3-4 attempts in any of the cases here. BESCOM guys did need help isolating the root cause and had to take 2 attempts at fixing the issue. You have to agree, even our DEs cannot do without one or another repro/feedback/root cause analysis.

Post a Comment