No In­for­ma­tion, No Com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Voice&Data - - EDITORIAL - <ibrahima@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in>

Ever writ­ten an email to our IT and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter Kapil Sibal? Or his deputy, Sachin Pi­lot? If not, don’t even try. How­ever, if you have to write a mail, don’t even ex­pect an ac­knowl­edge­ment from their of­fice, for­get a re­ply. The pos­si­bil­ity is that if you call up their of­fice to find out what hap­pened to your email, and you are lucky, some­one will tell you that to reach the min­is­ter do not send the mail on his ‘mit.in’ or the ‘nic. in’ ad­dress, but try his al­ter­nate gmail or ya­hoo con­tact. It’s an­other story that you will break your head to get a re­ply from the min­is­ter’s al­ter­nate gmail, which again will never come. Call again, and some­one will tell you to send a fax.

Per­haps, some­one will tell you that min­is­ters are too busy to re­ply to ev­ery mail that comes to them. The fact is that they have a whole plethora of sup­port staff, whose job ranges from re­ply­ing to let­ters to fix­ing his ap­point­ments and so on. You could try writ­ing to these of­fi­cers, and the fi­nal re­sult will not be very dif­fer­ent. They must be avoid­ing the me­dia, you could ar­gue. But, trust me, talk to any IT or com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany, and you will hear a sim­i­lar story.

If you hap­pen to meet some of them you will dis­cover that these of­fi­cers of the Govern­ment of In­dia do not even carry ‘mit.in’ or the ‘nic.in’ email ad­dresses (the GOI do­main names for email ad­dresses) on their vis­it­ing card. It would most prob­a­bly be a gmail, hot­mail, or a ya­hoo ad­dress. It was very em­barass­ing when re­cently, af­ter a press con­fer­ence, a jour­nal­ist asked one of the IT min­is­ters why they use a gmail/hot­mail for of­fi­cial work while cre­at­ing such a hue and cry over IT se­cu­rity...the min­is­ter was speech­less, and so were his as­sis­tants. I can re­late an­other in­ci­dent of a few months back, when a se­nior IT min­istry of­fi­cial did not share his card with the MD of an IT com­pany whom he met at a sem­i­nar, on the im­por­tance of us­ing In­dian do­main names.

This sends out a very poor mes­sage—both to us In­di­ans and to those who come from other coun­tries. And how will the min­is­ters ask their of­fi­cers to use ‘mit.in’ or the ‘nic.in’ if they them­selves do not use it. I am not sure how we can trust the fu­ture of the In­dian in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy with peo­ple who are ei­ther not com­fort­able with in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, or are not aware of its power and reach.

Want to see the dif­fer­ence with some other coun­tries? Send an email to the IT min­is­ter in South Korea or Sin­ga­pore or Aus­tralia. You get an ac­knowl­edge­ment within 24 hours, and a re­ply, most prob­a­bly from a con­cerned of­fi­cer, within the next 24 hours. And if you want to know where these coun­tries are on wi-fi, broad­band, con­nec­tiv­ity and other ICT in­fra­struc­ture, look up Google. Our con­cerned min­istry will most prob­a­bly not even have In­dia’s ICT sta­tis­tics to share, so try Google. So much for our ICT lead­er­ship.

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