Finally the tour guide exam result is declared and I passed it. The exam was held on the 26th of August, 2007 and result was declared on 7th of November, 2008, after more than a year. Government had a hard time during this one year. They were sued four times by applicants on various reasons but finally everything is settled now. More than 50,000 applicants had applied but only 300 passed it and I got 223rd rank.
There was one very interesting thing about the result – only eight girls passed the exam. There could be two reasons behind it- either parents still don’t want their daughters to work out of the city or girls feel unsecure having this kind of job. Indian girls in small cities are highly qualified. Usually they continue their studies until they get married and usually they read history or some language which could be best for this profession. There is big demand for girl tour guides but…
Now I will go for a sixteen week training period where they will teach me about Indian history and monuments in North India. There will be fourteen weeks of classes and two weeks of touring at various monuments in North India with a professor. After completing the classes and tour they will organize another exam and the students who pass the exam will go through an interview. After passing interview tour guide license will be issued.
New tour guides are part of the preparation for the Commonwealth Games which are in 2010 so it seems like the Government will not delay starting the training, but who knows, maybe another case because after all it is the Government of India, so anything is possible. I am so excited to go for training so that I can get my license as soon as possible and start working.
Finally I got tour guide license after one year of drama. My advocate was extremely good working on this case. He sued Ministry of Tourism in Delhi High Court and Delhi High Court ordered Ministry of Tourism to issue temporary license to every applicant until they declare result. My advocate called and told me to go to Delhi and collect my license from Tourism Office.
I reached there and it was the first time when I was not asked for bribe to get some work done in a government office. They have issued me a temporary license for next one month which I have to get renewed every month in the same office in Delhi. This license permits me to work with any foreigner as their tour guide anywhere in North India. They have issued same kind of license to over 200 people which is nothing, we still need at least 2,000 more guides.
My advocate says that if government doesn’t declare result until next three renewal of my license, he will sue government again for giving permanent license because after working for 90 days as a temporary employee anyone can sue their employer to give them permanent job. I know it will take at lest 30 renewals until they declare result, after all there are already four cases pending in Indian courts.
Now I can get a job very easily with any travel agency but I will not do it because I am not prepared to work as tour guide, I don’t want to be like other old guides. I think I will study first and then work freelance for a while. A lot of people write me asking about tour of Benares and tour guides and usually I tell them to contact UP tourism to get a guide but now I have a option to work with them.
After a year of giving exam of tour guide few applicants came together and decided to sue Ministry of Tourism for not declaring the result, I was also one of those applicants. I was informed about it by my elder brother. I went to Delhi to meet the advocate in Delhi High Court. He wanted my date of birth certificate and xerox of admit card of the examination.
I met more than 20 applicants in his office who also wanted to be part of this case. Most of them were from Rajasthan and Agra, I think I was the only one from Benares. Advocate said that it will take maximum of 10 days for case to be finalized which sounded strange to me, after all we have most number of cases pending in the whole world, ie 40,00,00,000 which means one out of every three person is involved in some kind of case.
There are already three cases pending against this exam and it was fourth one, I don’t know what government is waiting for. They should give license to everyone and let the market decide who is good and who is bad. Since there are very few government guides, they are never ever interviewed, they are just hired even they don’t know anything. Most of the times travel agencies hire a private guide, who has no license, and a government guide also. Non government guides talk to clients and government guides are just to protect the group. Usually they chew Paan and keep their mouth shut and let the private guide talk to clients and if Police comes then they talk to Police.
After waiting for 9 months Ministry of Tourism organized tour guide exam in August but they didn’t want everyone to participate in the exam so they sent a letter to all the applicants before one week of exam saying to deposit domicile certificate issued by court in Gwalior which was just next to impossible because court takes more than a week to issue it. More than half of the applicants could not participate in the exam, somehow I was able to manage it and participated in the exam. They thought that this way will be able to reduce the number of applicants but they could not succeed.
All the applicants who could not participate in the exam sued Government in High Court of Delhi and court ordered Tourism Ministry to organize exam again for the applicants who could not participate. So finally all the applicants participated in the exam but right after this exam they sued government again saying that first exam was easier than second one and they were demanding to organize a exam again for all the applicants. But I am sure government could not do this because if they do this then first batch applicants would sue government again.
Now they can not declare result due to these two cases. There is one another case pending in High Court of Jaipur against the previous exam which was filed about 5 years ago and it makes me think that may be it will take another 5-6 years to declare this time exam result. Commonwealth Games are only in 2010 and it doesn’t seem to me that Government will be able to train guides by then. They have to get rid of all the cases, then admission process, classes, tour, I am sure they will not be able to train the guides.
India is going to host commonwealth games in 2010 and Indian Government wants to prepare 1000 tour guides for that event. I had also applied to get a tour guide license for North India last year in November. I was supposed to participate in a written exam and if I qualify that then a interview and if I pass the interview then 3 months training which includes classes and a tour of monuments with a professor. I was told that the exam will be held in February but it took almost 9 months.
Finally after waiting for a long time I got a admit card to participate in tour guide exam. But there was again some problem, they sent me admit card with a letter, right before one week of the exam, saying to submit domicile certificate issued by court within next one week in Gwalior which was impossible. Because if I apply for domicile certificate then court needs more than a week to issue it. I contacted tourism office but they said that it was not their fault but postage department’s fault. They said that they had posted the letter one month ago but postage department was late delivering it.
I contacted my advocate but he also seemed helpless to me because there was strike of advocates going on in Benares. By the way I gave all the documents to my advocate to see if he could get me a domicile certificate. I waited for 3 days but advocates were still on strike and it started seeming to me that I would not be able to participate in the exam. Then I contacted my brother’s friend who was already doing training in the same institute where I was supposed to submit the documents.
He said that there will be no problem if I bring my passport or some other residential proof. He said that Government was not hoping for more than 20,000 applicants but more than 50,000 applicants had applied that is why they sent that letter to everyone, just to cut down the number of applicants. I contacted Institute again asking if it was possible to submit some other residential proof instead of domicile certificate and again the said No.
Finally I decided to go to Gwalior with the documents and newspaper cutting that said about strike of advocates in Benares. I reached Gwalior, met my brother’s friend and we went to the institute. First they were not agree to except my documents but after a big argument the took my ration card, voter id card and driving license. I was still not sure if I would be able to participate in the exam which was after a week. I came back to Delhi to my brother’s home and stayed there for one week.
Finally It was my exam date and my exam center was in Delhi. I went there with my brother’s wife who had also applied for the same exam. I was a bit worried seeing the applicants list but wow! it worked, I saw my name in the list, it was a big relief for me. I gave the exam, questions were quiet easy than I was expecting. I had thought that exam would be very tough but there was nothing like that. I saw few students in my class room asking answers to other students, I had never hoped for that.
I worked with a Law Researcher from University of London as Assistant and translator. He was interested in legal perspective of Coke issue. He had already lived in India for more than a year therefore he knew a little bit of Hindi but not good enough to interview people. He is president of an NGO called Glocality International that has its office in London and New Delhi. I worked with him for three days in Varanasi.
Tyler was working on some International Law Cases also like he and his friend had sued 7 ministers of China including President and Prime Minister for killing over a million people in Tibet. He said that the case was registered in Spain because no other country was agree to accept a case in their court against Chinese Government .
We interviewed a lot of villagers, Nandlal Master and few government officials including Regional Pollution Control officer, Ground Water Authorities and District Village Committee’s officers. He was very impressed with the way Nandlal and his friends were running movement. Since he had only 3 days and he wanted to interview as much as he could, we spent one night in Lok Samiti’s office to interview Nandlal and his friends.
We had hard time with Regional Pollution Control Officer because he thought that he knew good enough English to talk Tyler therefore never wanted to use me. Tyler had already told him about me but he wanted to talk on his own. Most of the time he did not understand what Tyler was asking about but he was so confident answering. He was trying to hide everything and Tyler always wanted to get as much as he could.
There was a hot talk between Tyler and Officer. Actually Tyler had a voice recorder but he did not ask the officer before using it and finally when he came to know that Tyler was recording everything, they started yelling on us. He was threatening us by taking Police’s name. At last Tyler said that he will sue Pollution Control Department in Supreme Court of India for being corrupt with Coke issue and if Supreme Court finds it true then the Officers will be sent to Jail which made officer more angry.
Finally we came out of office laughing and talking about that creepy officer. It was really funny for me see a PCS officer getting angry on me but could not do anything. District Village Committee Officer was very much interested talking to Tyler. He explained everything he knew about Coke issue and role of Village Committees. He promised us to provide all the documents and support he could. He was first Government officer I had ever met who was really interested talking to people, may be he was interested in talking to a foreigner.