How not to design a form
To say that the new Identity Card Forms are user unfriendly, loaded with irrelevant requirements and require uncalled for formalities would be an understatement for this great piece of art. Ignoring for a moment the
misery that they cause to their captive users, one can identify two very useful academic functions that may be obtained from a serious study of these forms. First they provide a deep insight into the incompetence and psyche of the governing bureaucracy, and second they can be used as an excellent text book example for 1st year BBA students on how not to design a form.
A form which must be filled by citizens of a country not entirely famous for its high literacy standards, should be absolutely simple and require just the minimum necessary information. Let us now examine the new form
and the blunders that it contains.
Column 1 calls for the name and Identity card number of the head of family. Who is the head of a joint family which consists of a grand father, a father and a son ? (not a rare phenomenon ). Perhaps an explanatory note could have helped to clarify this matter.
Column 9, 10 and 11 require a citizen to provide three kinds of addresses, current, past and permanent. What great research are the clerks of the interior ministry likely to carry out with this information? It would have been
adequate to simply ask for a single address where a citizen normally lives.
Column 13 asks for marital status, but does not stop at that. It goes on to further explore your personal lives by asking if one has been divorced, or widowed. Why is this information valid to a state, that does not have even a rough idea of how many people live in this country.
Column 14 of the form requires a citizen to declare his religion from one of the seven suggested categories. To begin with, why does a state require its citizens to declare their personal faiths, when its founder categorically stated equality of all citizens regardless of their cast or creed? In a country where people are killed each day for belonging to one or the other faith, providing such information is asking for trouble. The story does not end there. Having declared oneself as a Muslim, one is further required to take an oath (green statement on the reverse of the form) on the nature of his Muslim beliefs. How is this important in a state where no two “mullahs” any way agree on one interpretation of any aspect of the religion.
Column 15 relating to mother tongue is many times difficult to answer, and could well have been omitted. What would be the mother tongue of a person whose father spoke Punjabi and mother Sindhi, or a person whose father spoke Urdu and mother Pushto?
Column 18 asking for various shades of “handicap” status (psychiatric patient to mentally retarded) is difficult to fill for a large population who has never seen a doctor in their lives. This as well as columns 21 and 22 which enquire into various types of accommodations and personal properties are irrelevant to the purpose of an identity card and could have been done without.
Column 30 has a redundant requirement of two signatures instead of one. The first signature required for the act of filling the form and the next for the correctness of its contents could have been combined into one.
Column 31 is an absolute mixture of three incongruous, impertinent and unrelated issues. First it makes an obvious and non value-adding statement that the form will be used to obtain a computerised identity card. Next it states that the back side of the photograph (which photograph?) should be verified. Finally it requires Muslims, to further take an oath on a three line statement written in green. Surprising that it does not call for people of other faiths to come out with what all they believe or do not believe in.
Column 32 is simply meant to make your life more miserable. It requires your form to be verified by a certain class of people who have earned the notorious distinction for being the most corrupt and unethical people of this country. One can almost swear that not one of them will take the trouble of checking out the tax, driving license, weapon license or passport number of the person whose form they would take the trouble of signing.
In order to further complicate matters, a secondary form is provided that describes conflicting instructions to fill the original Identity card form . Paragraph 7 of the secondary form requires two photographs to be pasted,
while its next paragraph requires one to be pasted and the other to be deposited along with the original identity card form. The secondary form further requires one attested photocopy of the existing identity card to be deposited along with the new form. As this instruction is not written on the new form, it would certainly mean more than one visits to the NADRA establishment – by millions of citizens, whose next assignment in life would be to get an identity card made.
The form absolves females from attaching their photographs and is quite content with their thumb impressions. Surely our bureaucracy has a way of keeping its population chained to its ignorant past, while perhaps
encouraging the art of finger print reading amongst its own employees.
One marvels at the competence of NADRA to come out with a form so devoid of professionalism and good common sense in this time and age. While a handful of minions would receive sadistic pleasure in asserting their authority, there would be millions of ordinary well meaning citizens, who will undergo repeated visits and misery of going through this torturous experience. It may be perfectly honourable to still admit that a mistake has been made, and a new simple, small and common sense-based form is provided to lessen the misery of the ordinary people of this extraordinary country.