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Wanted: vendor Premji's ration card

He may be the richest man in India, but he can't cut through the Calcutta red tape without a ration card.

That's what Azim Premji's men, at the Wipro office in Salt Lake's Sector V found out the hard way.

Following an application from Wipro to be a registered vendor with Calcutta Police, a constable from the Special Branch (SB) landed up at the office of the IT major.

The constable proceeded to hand over a list of documents to be submitted by the company for it to receive a vendor registration certificate.

Topping the must-submit list was the ration card of Wipro chairman Azim Premji, whose wealth for the year 2005 was pegged at $11 billion.

The Wipro staffers tried their best to convince the cop on duty that handing over their Bangalore-based boss's ration card was 'impossible'.

But the constable in question (name withheld on request) played it by the book and insisted on the Premji proof.

'The constable was following the rules and regulations mentioned in our standard format,' said a senior officer at Lalbazar police headquarters.

The list of documents required in the standard format for vendor registration reads:

• Ration card of the proprietor (in this case, chairman)

• Registration certificate

• Trade licence

• Income-tax clearance

• Company PAN card

• Bank's solvency certificate

• Sales tax clearance

• Rent or tax bill for address proof.

'Calcutta Police has sent a Rs 500-crore proposal to the central government to modernise the force. Wipro IT had filed an application to be an enlisted company for this project that would equip the police headquarters and all police stations here with computers,' explained the Lalbazar officer.

While the copybook constable cannot be faulted, the ration card rule has left some of his superiors red-faced.

'The format was prepared for the smaller firms that supply us equipment. Now the situation has changed, especially with the computerisation drive,' admitted an officer at Lalbazar. 'We will have to erase the ration-card stipulation. Next time, if we go to the Microsoft office for verification, we can't possibly ask for Bill Gates's ration card.'

The richest man in the world may, after all, cut through the Calcutta red tape without a ration card.

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