While it is not yet known who issued the ban – whether it is the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating the leaks and has made a number of arrests, or the Finance Ministry itself which has issued the ban (although the message on the officials’browsers does say ‘Blocked by Ministry of Finance) – the move does not seem well thought out and may well be ineffective and counter-productive.
Counter-productive because, and this is an important argument, government websites are the last place one should look for information. Whatever Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcements about the government’s increased footprint on digital platforms may be, the fact remains that information on most of these sites are hopelessly outdated.
The junior officers, which includes directors, deputy directors, deputy secretaries, under secretaries and joint directors, among others, are responsible for authoring most of the government documents and files. They do the painful research and background data work for these documents using various tools which may include several websites on the world wide web.
Even in some central government websites, the data is outdated by two years. In such a situation, officials usually depend on private news and data portals because the facts and figures they carry are much more relevant. I mean you can’t prepare a document on ‘x’ state’s infant mortality figures if the ‘x’ state’s own numbers are outdated and the private portals which have the updated data, are blocked.