Friday, February 26, 2016

Gujarat govt "firewalls" top sites ending gujarat.gov.in for outside India, "fears" of Russian, Chinese spammers

By Rajiv Shah
Is Gujarat government not interested in non-resident Indian (NRI) supporters to officially know what’s happening in Gujarat, propagated as India’s model state? Facts have come light suggesting that the state’s information technology (IT) establishment has firewalled several Gujarat government websites’ access worldwide, except India, for security reasons.
A top Gujarat government insider confirms, this is the handiwork of a decision taken on state websites. He says, "Just checked. For some foolish reason or rank stupidity all sites with gujarat.gov.in have been denied access to outside India. Instead of taking preventive protective action, a ham-handed approach is used. I am amused and startled... In this age!"
It all began when someone from Gujarat, who is now in US, tried accessing the state finance department site, http://financedepartment.gujarat.gov.in/, on the day the state budget was presented in the state assembly, February 23. “I was shocked”, the NRI said. “For two days I tried to access the site, but failed. I tried it on different browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer – but failed.”
He adds, “Then, I tried to open three other sites, two of the industries department sites -- http://www.imd-gujarat.gov.in/ and http://ic.gujarat.gov.in/ -- and one of the NRI department, http://nri.gujarat.gov.in/, but could not access them.”
An NRI based in Melbourne, Australia, found that none of the above sites could be accessed, also finding it “really strange.” Editing South Asia Times, Neeraj Nanda says, the sites are “redirecting” but thereafter “nothing happens” on Chrome, while Internet Explorer just says, “the page cannot be found.”
A Gujarati NRI based in US, a software engineer, after using available site tools, told Counterview that, the Gujarat government’s official website -- http://www.gswan.gov.in/ -- could be accessed; but the moment on goes to http://www.gswan.gov.in/SitePages/Government-Sites.aspx for accessing the sites of respective state departments, the ones with the "gujarat.gov.in" tag did not work.
He checked four sites on https://www.site24x7.com/ -- of industries and mines, industries commission, NRI and general administration department (GAD) sites.
“I find it really strange. While I could easily open www.gujaratindia.com, the state government portal, those with the tag gujarat.gov.in could not be accessed. I do not know the reason, though the problem appears to be with the state IT service providers”, he says (click HERE  for one of the results).
Roshan Shah
He wonders, “Is this accidental? They should solve this problem. People do want to know from the state government sites about what is happening in the Gujarat government.”
A software engineer in Ahmedabad, Pratik Sinha, told Counterview, after using “different tools” to find out which sites open where, “Except in India, the gujarat.gov.in sites are “not available anywhere in the world.” Currently, he is investigating what could be the “real reason.”
A computer engineer and NRI, who is now in Ahmedabad, Roshan Shah, suspects that the state government “may have done IP blocking” in order to “filter traffic only local to India.” Also a well-known political activist, he strongly believes, “This prevents from spammers, usually Russian and Chinese spammers, seeking to hack website.”
Shah says, “They should have used better technology and firewalls and have better tools to detect and prevent this spamming”, suspecting, “They may not have competency and 24x7 support in place. Perhaps, to them, NRIs/NRGs are not wanted.”
Calling this “lame, very lame”, Shah comments, “We call ourselves democracy but act like a dictator. If an investor wants to invest in Gujarat and wants to get info from government sites, he gets none. No wonder Vibrant Gujarat is going every single day for a big toss.”
Pointing towards how Gujarat has long claimed to have the best internet network anywhere in India, with global outreach, Roshan wonders, “who decides which site goes global and which local, and what is the logic”, adding, after all, it is “all public money on the basis of which these sites are created.”

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