There are a variety of agents to help you get your work done in India. If you’re looking for an apartment, applying for a driver’s licence, passport or foreign visa, or requesting a PAN card, there’s an agent for everything.
All over the city there are small signs printed on A4 sheets of paper stuck on tree trunks and shop fronts which simply say: PAN card, and then a mobile phone number. These are posted by agents who can apply for a PAN card (income tax number) on your behalf, for a small fee of course. Applying for a PAN card is actually quite easy. It can be done on-line. But for those who aren’t very net savvy or perhaps don’t have the time, they can use the services of these agents.
Then there are the ubiquitous real estate agents. A friend who’s looking for an apartment is having a hard time avoiding them. When she replies to ads in the paper, it’s always an agent who answers. Somehow they manage to have a monopoly on the rental market. And they’re not cheap! They expect one month of rent from the landlord AND the tenant! Which is always negotiable of course...
Getting things done takes time in India. You have to wait in offices, collect papers, fill them out, return to the office only to be told you need this form, or that paper has to be notarised, and the other one printed on stamp paper. Or you’re asked to ‘Come tomorrow’. It’s a complex process which requires not only time but a good dose of patience. So why wait in lines and fill in papers when you can have someone else do it for you?