Hopelessly out of date

IN Regional Media | 13/09/2006
Jammu and Kashmir’s web presence reflects the complete failure of the official state information mechanism
 

 

 

 

 

Zafar Choudhary

 

 

 

For a state like Jammu and Kashmir dissemination of authentic, timely and accurate information is most important to fight the propaganda. There is democratically elected government, all religions with Muslims being no exception have absolute freedom of faith. But the official information machinery of Pakistan and separatist elements of Kashmir have made many a gullible to believe otherwise. This can be seen as a complete failure of the official state information mechanism. Without going too deep into the distortion of facts, a cursory glance

at the official website of Jammu and Kashmir government and those of its 14 districts shows  why those who misinterpret the  situation in Kashmir have a reason to do so. 

 

Look at these small details: the Peoples Democratic Party`s Muzaffar Hussain Baig resigned as Deputy Chief Minister from the coalition government on September 1, 2006; Ghulam Hassan Mir was dropped from the cabinet on November 2, 2005; the then minister of state for education Dr Ghulam Nabi Lone was killed in a militant attack on October 8, 2006; the present strength of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad`s council of ministers is 22.

 

But according to the official website of Jammu and Kashmir government Muzaffar Hussain Baig still continues to be the Deputy Chief Minister retaining all powerful departments of Finance, Planning Development, Law and Parliamentary Affairs; Ghulam Hassan Mir is still a Minister for Housing and Urban Development; PDP`s Dr Ghulam Nabi Lone still an MLA and represents Sangrama constituency in Baramulla district, and Azad`s council of ministers still has 13 members.

 

If you are used to trusting the official information then there is a reason to believe in what is written above. On the  contrary, if you are sure what is written above is wrong then it is high time you began looking for reliable information rather than the official version.

 

In the era of Information Technology when the entire world is described as small `global village` and people plan their decisions and do business, politics, and even arrange marriages through the internet which serves as an information gateway. In such a scenario, the state of Jammu and Kashmir -continuously under international gaze for a variety of reasons -is expected to use information and communication technology to serve the world with timely, authentic and accurate information.

 

The situation here is contrary. The official website of the state designed and hosted by National Informatics Centre and `maintained` by the Department of Information is a `must not` view site if one is looking for timely information. The question of authenticity has been left out of the scope of present report.

 

Ten days after his departure from the state government, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, on the official website is still a Deputy Chief Minister retaining all those departments which are actually held by Tariq Hamid Qarra. The official site has link called `News and Views` that was designed to post daily activity news of the government. For six months now the link is out of order and no news thus.

 

Another link called `What is New` was supposed to list the latest decisions and other policy matters of the government for information of general public and those across the world who are interested in dealing with Jammu and Kashmir government. `The latest` information on this link is a list of the candidates of Municipal Bodies dating back to early 2005.

 

Apart from the official website, there 14 websites of all districts supposedly designed with an aim of e-governance so that people can get quick information, make quick contacts and quick decisions. Here is a caution while using any of these websites. If you want to contact the Deputy Commissioner of Anantnag, you are advised against going through the official website of this Southern Kashmir district. Because you might eventually land in the Chief Minister`s secretariat. The site says, Shailendra Kumar is DC Anantnag who, however, is the Secretary to Chief Minister since November 2005.

 

If you are clicking the official website of Rajouri district to know about the DC, chances are that you are getting information about Director Local Bodies, Kashmir. Pervez Malik replaced Mohammad Abbas Dar as DC Rajouri about three months back but the latter still welcomes you in the who`s who section at http://rajouri.nic.in,  with a photograph to boot.

 

It seems that it was long back that when someone from the National Informatics Centre or the district administration visited their own created and maintained homepage of Baramulla district. Dr Ghulam Nabi Lone, a junior minister was killed in a militant attack in October last year. Six months after his death his son Shoiab contested and won election from the Sangrama constituency. However, the district web site maintained that Dr Lone is still an MLA. Dr Mustafa Kamal got elected from Pattan constituency in May this year but the site asserts that this segment is still represented by Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari.  

 

And if you are looking for employment avenues by browsing pages of official websites, you are once again advised not to do that. An employment notice on webpage of Baramulla district dates back to August 2003 even as this site maintains that Dheeraj Gupta is still the DC of this North Kashmir district.

 

The view of the official websites is not disappointing in every case. The home page of Doda district is well maintained and properly updated. But there are some interesting updates. The `who`s who` category on this site is maintained in an alphabetical order so as to place the Deputy Commissioner (administrative head of the district) at 13 th position and an Executive Engineer at first position. 

 

The districts of Kathua, Leh and Kargil appear to be the only honourable exceptions in this category of e-governance for having updated web sites.

 

 

 

The author is Resident Editor Kashmir Images, Jammu edition and Executive Director, Center for Media Research and Documentation. He can be reached at choudhary.zafar@gmail.com
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