Driving License Renewal in India

In the year 1999, I received my Driving License(DL) at RTO in Thane. A small blue booklet with handwritten notes, it looked quite outdated compared to the driving license smart card I had seen with my father. After returning to India a couple of years back, I often wondered if my old license booklet was still recognized. So I checked my driving license number on the Parivahan website and as expected, it did not show any record.

If you also have an old driving license, check if the license record exists here: https://parivahan.gov.in/rcdlstatus/?pur_cd=101

I decided to visit the RTO office, Belgaum and asked them about it. The RTO office in Belgaum is located at right side of the PB road once you cross the Sangoli Rayanna Circle. The staff were very helpful and promptly made an entry in the database after verifying my original license. Thereafter, my driving license showed up online. Having your record added to the RTO database is very important as it will help you perform future transactions online. The RTO will also update your mobile number in their database and send you timely reminders. The validity of my license was for 20 years, until Aug 2019. I received an SMS reminding me to renew the license on time and avoid late fees.

An expired driving license is valid only for a month. After this date, you will need to pay a penalty of more than 1000 Rs based on the delay time in renewal.

While most of the steps can be performed online, a few steps will require you to visit RTO office in person.
Here are the Steps to renew the DL:

1. Fill Application Details
Use this link: https://sarathi.parivahan.gov.in/sarathiservicecov2/sarathiHomePublic.do

  • Fill Applicant Details in the Online Form.
  • Once you finish this, you will receive an Application number. Save this number for future transactions.
  • You need to download the completed form and take a print out.
  • Your download will consist of Form 9(DL Renewal Form), Form 1(Physical Fitness declaration form), Form 1A(Medical Certificate)

2. Upload Documents

Here are the documents you will need to upload, so keep them ready.

  • Age Proof – I used PAN, there are other options accepted as age proof. You can see it in the drop down for Uploading documents
  • Address Proof – I used Aadhar for this.
  • Scanned Photo and Signature 
    Photo – 420 pixel x 525 pixel and Size 10kb – 20kb
    Signature – 256 pixel x 64 pixel and Size 10kb – 20kb
    I used MS-Paint to compress the files to required size and resolution. This took some time as the size mentioned is quite small.
  • Upload Scanned old DL

3. Medical Certificate

  • The Application form you filled in Step 1, will have the Form 1A for Medical Certificate.
  • Take a print out of this.
  • Attach your photo and fill in your identification marks, the doctor will fill the rest of the details.

You need to obtain Medical Certificate from a Government Doctor only. I got mine from the Primary HealthCare Centre(PHC) in Ram Nagar. There is a small road perpendicular to Maratha Mandal College, take that road and the PHC is at the first left. You will see a small single floor building. Surprisingly, none of the college students I asked knew about the existence of this PHC. In India, when nobody knows the place/ roads, ask the most reliable GPS – the auto wallah and you wont be disappointed. While I met one nurse in the PHC who misled me and made me run around and visit twice, there was thankfully another kind nurse who helped me out. Once you get the Doctor’s signature and seal, the PHC will ask you to submit a Xerox for their records.

Note: There are agents who will help you get the certificate for 100 Rs near RTO itself. If you have the time and patience, you can do it for free. Ideally, we all should avoid middle men.

4. Payment of Fees
The renewal fees was 351Rs, to be paid online. If the payment fails due to transaction failure, you will get a message to check after 30 minutes. If you check after 30 minutes, it still won’t allow you to pay. You will need to personally visit RTO office to ask them to cancel the transaction. They do not take payment by cash at RTO Belgaum and payment online is a must.

Take a printout of the receipt after paying the fees, as this will be required for further processing.

5. RTO Visit

a. Biometric Verification
Once you enter Belgaum RTO, turn right and walk a little distance past the main RTO building to a small separate room. You will need to submit your application printout here. The person in charge will click your photo and ask you to sign on an electronic pad. A fee of 60Rs is collected here. After submitting the biometrics, this person will give you a receipt, keep it carefully

b. Driving License Verification
For this, you will need to visit the main RTO office and show your original Driving License at the counter. Please note the timings on each counter. Ideal time to visit RTO, especially these counters is from 10am to 1pm.

c. Superintendent Signature
You will be asked to collect a self addressed envelope from the Xerox shop outside RTO. They will charge you 35Rs for this.

Enter your name and address on the envelope.

Attach your

  • Application form(Form 9) including Medical Certificate(Form 1 and 1A)
  • Biometric Receipt/ Challan
  • Renewal Fee Payment Receipt/ Challan
  • Original DL

Place all of this along with the self addressed envelope and give it to the Superintendent for one final approval signature. After it is signed, you will need to submit all of these forms to an RTO staff. The RTO staff will give you a rough idea about when you will receive the license at home.

Once your application is approved, you will get an SMS. This generally happens within 7-10 days. The home delivery of the license will take time. You can track your application using the Application number on the Parivahan website. If you do not receive your DL to your home address, visit the RTO and collect in person.

The DL renewal process application submission took me 2 days and a total fees of Rs 446(351Rs Renewal Fees + 60Rs Biometric Fees + 35Rs Envelope) for the renewal. My recommendation is to try doing this process on your own and avoid agents, I hope sharing my experience above will help you. A permanent driving license has a validity of 20 years or until the age of 50, whichever comes first.

Keep your records updated and drive safe.

Mother Nature at her Best

We are seeing numerous articles these days about how Mother Nature is healing amidst the lockdown. The air is cleaner, the birds are chirping louder and many animals are out and about wandering curiously. It is wonderful to see that the Holy Ganga has self cleaned itself faster and better than what we humans have tried for years.

A little birdie has made a beautiful nest in one of our flower plants. I just figured out that the bird is a Bulbul. It is amazing to see how these little birds build such safe and cozy homes for their little ones.


And then there are these bees who have been living on the Curry Patta tree for months now. Initially I used to be afraid to go near them and was looking at ways to drive them away. But over time I realized that they were harmless. The pollution and urbanization in cities is threatening the bees, so the least I could do is to let them stay.


My love for nature can be attributed to my upbringing. I grew up in a jungle-like green campus with tall dense trees, with monkeys and deers for company. While I always admired greenery, I barely made any contribution to it previously.

My mother has played a big part in transforming me here. For 10 years in Silicon Valley, my mornings started and ended with my laptop. When I moved back to India, watering all the plants in our big garden everyday seemed like a chore.

Then my mother showed me little treasures hidden in the garden. And along with learning to love working in the garden, I learnt an important management lesson on how to motivate your employees.

Here are some hidden treasures from our garden:

Bramha kamal – A flower that blooms in the night only once a year


A single 5 petaled flower among all 4 petaled ones, can you find it below?



Here are some of the beautiful flowers from our garden


Slowly as time passed, I got hooked to this magical green wonderland. Today I love spending time in the garden and doing my little bit towards conserving nature. The happiness I feel is immense. I have realized that when you give a little to nature, you receive joy many times over.

Women’s Safety – The Daily Struggles


I have spent almost half of my life living on my own, away from home. During college years, in a hostel and during work life in 4 different countries. Safety was always an important concern all along. As a woman, I did face my share of troubles and problems. I dealt with them either by learning to live with them or addressing them head on. In hindsight, I wish I had been more bold and dealt with more problems head on. Here is one unique challenge I am facing at the moment and want to know how you would deal with it.

The back door of our house faces a public road. We leave it open sometimes for cross ventilation. There is a compound wall 4 feet high between the road and our house. From the outside, anyone on the road can see our kitchen. About hundred people pass by everyday but nobody bothers looking.

One evening, I had tea with my mother and realized that someone was peeping into our kitchen. Initially, I ignored but after a while I realized that this person was still there looking inside for about five minutes. This person is a man who walks his dog and passes by our house multiple times a day. This peeping activity continued for a few days and began irritating me.

One morning, I was furious when I saw this person loitering around home and peeping inside. I began recording his activity on phone.

He looked at me and commented, “Kitna Gussa”

So I spoke directly to him and asked, “What are you seeing inside our house?”

“No, no madam. I am not that kind of a person. Everyone knows me here”, he said and continued with “I live very close by. I am just walking my dog.”

I said, “I know, I have seen you walk your dog for the past two years now. But I saw you standing in front of our door and peeping into our house”

“No madam, I am not that type. I help out in the neighborhood. I have been living here since many years”

I simply said “Okay” and didn’t extend our conversation. For the next few days, this person stopped loitering around home.

But a few more days later, everything was back to square one. It was obvious that this person on the pretext of walking his dog, spent time peeping inside other’s homes.

Mom and I do feel bothered, but she chooses to ignore such things. Her philosophy is that there are many dogs barking on the street, don’t we ignore them. So I did learn to ignore too for a few months. But when one walks the dog five times a day and loudly screams “chee-chee” on purpose, it becomes a little difficult to ignore.

Today evening, I heard him and saw him again peeping inside our house for a few minutes. I lost my temper. I went to collect the dried clothes from outside and spoke out loud enough for him to hear, “How indecent can a person be. In the pretext of walking ones dog, one just wants to trouble others”

My mother asked me not to waste my energy on such people. “Don’t argue with such uncivilized people. You are just wasting your energy. Such uneducated people think they are perfect and will never understand what you are saying. Don’t give them any importance. He will say that it is a public road and he is not doing anything wrong”

I realize where my mother is coming from and transforming some stranger is not my intention. But when someone keeps peeping into our house everyday, it feels annoying and unsafe. I have often wondered how he would feel if I passed by his house 5 times a day and kept peeping inside his house.

How would you have dealt with such daily annoyance? Let me know.

PIN Code issues in Indian Passport Application

The Indian Passport Office has come up with numerous improvements over the years. I remember the first time my passport was issued in Chennai in the year 2000. The paperwork and processing took humongous amount of time and effort for my father and me. The renewal came up ten years later in 2010, when I was in California. The process was relatively simpler. All I had to do was upload a few documents and take a day off work to visit the Consulate in San Francisco, which was about 40 miles away. My renewed passport was sent home in a few days. After my parents shifted to Belgaum permanently, they had to visit Hubli to get their passport renewed. I was happy when I heard the news that Belgaum was getting it’s own passport service centre. My passport is due for renewal now in 2020. I looked up the process on the website and it seemed pretty straight forward. I assumed that the renewal would be done in a jiffy, but little did I anticipate the surprise in store.

I have been struggling with the PIN code entry in my online application. The PIN code for my address in Nanawadi, Belgaum is 590009.  It has always been so, for the past 25 years and I have the same PIN code on all my IDs – Aadhar card, PAN card, Voter ID and my old Passport too. Now all of a sudden, the passport application software just wont accept 590009 as my pin code for my passport renewal. The error below shows up.


As a Software Engineer, it is obvious to me that the PIN code in the Passport Application software is tied to the Police station for Police verification. This particular validation check I assume is written so that the application is automatically assigned the appropriate Police Station. My assumption is further validated from the report here: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Passport-software-tweaked-to-match-police-station-with-applicant/articleshow/46256925.cms. So far, so good.

But then, the software needs to include all the PIN codes that come under the jurisdiction of a particular Police station and not just a subset. In my case, the software only takes 590006 as a valid PIN code and does not allow 590009. And while I could use an incorrect PIN code to get my passport application through, I will have to bear the incorrect PIN on my passport for the next 10 years. Passport is the only ID proof accepted internationally, especially when we travel abroad. PIN code is an important part of our address. In the US, I remember using PIN code for banking transactions, at the Gas stations, for credit cards and for various documents requiring Address authentication. So entering an incorrect PIN code is just not right nor acceptable to me.

So here is what I did about it:

  • I first raised a Grievance explaining the entire issue via the Grievance/ Feedback form on the Passport Seva website.
    Response Received: Please contact call centre 1800 258 1800 / visit our website for documents requirement

From their response it seemed like they had not even read my issue. Calling 1800-258-1800, yielded no response.

  • Then, I raised another grievance via pgportal MEAPD/E/2019/04342
    Response Received: As informed by the Service Provider the PIN code 590009 can be entered. However, you can bring it to the notice of the respective PSK/POPSK in writing to make necessary changes on the date of your application.

This is not true, 590009 cannot be entered. So again, they had not even bothered to read about my problem.

  • I then escalated and sent an email to jscpo@mea.gov.in and rpo.bangalore@mea.gov.in
    Response Received: Applicant may contact to the customer care Toll Free No. 1800-258-1800

Escalation wasn’t useful at all as even they did not bother to read my email. Calling 1800-258-1800, again yielded no response.

  • I finally went to the Passport office in Belgaum and asked the staff there.
    Response Received: Enter 590006(which is not my PIN code). When I told that it wasn’t the right PIN code, I was told it doesn’t matter.

On further Googling this error, I realized that many people are affected by the incorrect PIN code problem in the Passport software. Here are a select few online discussions I found:

Wondering if the tweak in software to improve processing time for Police verification is causing other side effects resulting in passports with incorrect PIN codes? Incorrect PIN code mismatch can cause serious issues to the future of many people, including visa issues.

This post is written with the only hope that someone in the MEA department in Government of India understands the root cause of the issue and takes the right action of fixing the Passport Application Software.


Update as of Aug 2021:

Every now and then, I get quite a few comments/ feedback from people facing a similar issue on their passport application – hence this update. This post was written with the intention of bringing this issue to the notice of the authorities. I am quite certain that the folks in the passport office are very well aware of this PIN code issue, but unfortunately don’t seem to want to fix it. This ‘Request Letter’ regarding the PIN code issue written by the local Passport office and attached to my application clearly states their reluctance in fixing this issue.


Due to other priorities in life, I did not pursue this PIN code issue any further. My passport is renewed but unfortunately with the incorrect PIN code. Hope this ‘online passport software issue’  is resolved at least when my passport comes up for the next renewal. 

City Chatbot

Chatbots are usually implemented in two ways:

  • Click Based Approach

In this approach, people do not have freedom to type in their questions. The user inputs are restricted to the options provided to them as clickable buttons. These buttons, on click offer further options. The advantage of this approach is that, it is less error prone with the chatbot controlling the flow. The disadvantage of this approach is that it may take multiple clicks/ steps to fetch answers.

Several banking websites have such chatbots.


  •  Free Format Approach

In this approach, the user is free to type and ask any question. The advantage of this approach is that the user gets a much quicker response. The disadvantage is the umpteen number of possibilities that need to be supported while implementing the chatbot.

Siri, Google Assistant are examples of such chatbots.

The ideal way to implement such chatbots is via Machine learning. And while that is the preferred approach, it is also highly resource(CPU/ Memory/ HD) intensive. For a solution with a limited data subset, there is no need to support every possibility under the sun. It is not only expensive to build such models, but at times irrelevant as well. For instance, the City Chatbot doesn’t need to answer random queries like ‘Explain Big Bang theory’ nor ‘Who will win the World Cup’.

The Chatbot we are building from scratch, uses a hybrid approach between both the models above, utilizing our City database schema as guidance.

Before we roll out the release, here is a sneak peak into ‘Click based approach’ of our City Chatbot:

We hope to release our chatbot within a month after testing and including the ‘Free Format Approach’ as well.

And we will use the analytics based on user interaction to continue feeding the chatbot with further improvements.