Attending a conference abroad is so painful because of all the paper work one has to do to get a visa and to obtain some grant money. But, it does not end with the conference itself, as one has to then come back and submit all the bills, which is another set of paperwork. And, this I realize now is more troublesome of the two.
I went to a conference in Jan 2013 and submitted the bills in Feb 2013. It is now June and I am yet to get the grant money that was promised to me by DST. First, they don't have the basic coutesy to send an acknowledgment email to the the claimant who has sent all the original documents by post. And, this is a major drawback and you get all worried coz a large sum is at stake. Second, when you try calling them at the phone number that they have provided in your grant letter, they never pick it up! Half the time you get a busy tone, which I am sure is because they have set the reciever down coz they do not want to be "disturbed" for exactly the thing that they are paid for. And, at other times, they simply don't pick up your calls, which again I am sure is because they have chosen to not come to office on that particular day. So, after a week or so of relentless calling when someone shows mercy on the poor phone and does pick it up, they ask me not to call on this number as no one picks it up (just in case, I hadn't realized it yet!). So, when I ask them about my file and the bills I have submitted, their first reply is that they haven't got it yet. But, after some checking, it is revealed that they did get my file but have lost one particular document, the solution to which they suggest is that I again fill up some forms, get the required signatures and send it to them (hoping all the time that they do not lose it again!). The good thing is that I have the photocopies and the scanned and copies of all my documents.
So, here are some tips which might be useful when dealing with a govt. office:
1. Keep photocopies and scanned copies of all your original documents. This will help you when they say that you have not sent them some document, when in fact, what they really mean is that they have lost it.
2. The phone number listed on the letter will mostly be the one which they do not bother to pick up. So, for DST, the phone number which they do pick up is: 011 26961916.
3. They also do not reply to emails, especially on the id that they have listed on your grant letter and on their website. So, the one which might get you a reply is: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Be relentless and keep calling or mailing them until they reply!
Hope others will be spared the same worry and frustration that I am facing right now.