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Home News Power Sector News Tough questions ignored, govt's Twitter durbar flops

Tough questions ignored, govt's Twitter durbar flops

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Sam pitrodaThe government's first-ever experiment with a question-answer session on Twitter on 25-09-2012 may have been a good beginning to tap social media to disseminate information but the attempt failed to enthuse netizens, with many questioning the purpose of such a move when 'tough' or 'uncomfortable' queries remained unanswered.

 Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's key advisor Sam Pitroda, who handled the 45-minute session on Twitter, tried to respond to as many questions as he could in a limited time, he preferred to share only that information which has been in public domain for long.

Interestingly, the chat session - which was billed by Pitroda as the "first press conference on Democratization of Information on Twitter in India" - gave a real taste of what netizens feel about the government's ability to manage its affairs in cyber space.

"GoI should first take care of IRCTC website and then talk about connecting billion people," tweeted a netizen, pointing to how the government's website for railway reservation and queries creates havoc with the users.

Similarly, a number of people asked how the government would connect with the people when there was no electricity and computer infrastructure in many parts of the country. Some also questioned the government's recent move to monitor websites, asking whether it was not against citizens' rights of speech or expression.

When Pitroda started taking questions, TOI too put a query through its Twitter account (@timesofindia). "Why is internet access, which is a basic right in many countries, so expensive in India," TOI asked.

Pitroda blamed shortage of bandwidth as the reason for high prices. "Hopefully, prices will go down as we get more broadband capacity and OFC (optical fiber connection) to panchayats," he tweeted back.

Before taking questions of journalists and other people from across the globe, the PM's advisor on public information, infrastructure and innovation shared what the government was doing to connect 250,000 panchayats across the country through optical fiber network to ensure smooth cyber experience.

He said, "The UPA government has various plans to build robust information infrastructure to democratize information on a scale that has never been done before... the government also has political will to make it happen."

The move to have such a 'session' on Twitter assumes significance when a section within the government has raised questions over the misuse of social networking sites and has pitched for its monitoring for security reasons in the wake of the recent Assam violence.

The rampant misuse of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube was noticed last month when miscreants uploaded a number of doctored videos and unverified information to inflame passions over alleged atrocities in Myanmar and Assam.

The episode, which led to exodus of people of northeast origin from Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and other cities out of panic, prompted the government to block over 310 web pages - some of which were uploaded on different websites in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, US and Egypt.

Pitroda, however, did not touch such episodes when people asked him about the incidents and the reported move to monitor websites.

In his opening remarks, he said, "Information brings about openness, accessibility, transparency, accountability... Information is power and not many wish to share. Info is critical for development and needs to be timely available to people."

Source- TOI


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