No Information, No Communication
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.