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Drawing India’s Borders Incorrectly Might Cost Millions

The bill also mandates that all individuals and companies producing maps in India, and all Indian citizens doing so globally should procure a license from the government

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The Border Guard of Bangladesh protested against the incident and sent a letter to its counterparts. Image source: dhakatribune.com
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On May 5, the Indian government uploaded a draft bill called “The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016”, which was later removed for various reasons, proposing to punish any person in India or any Indian abroad for publishing or distributing maps, online or in physical form, with “wrong or false topographic information”-in other words, maps with boundaries that don’t match the government’s.

The draft bill specifies “No person shall depict, disseminate, publish or distribute any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries through internet platforms or online services or in any electronic or physical form. Whoever acquired any geospatial information of India in contravention of the law shall be punished with a fine ranging from Rs 1 crore ($150,000) to Rs 100 crore ($15 million) and or imprisonment for a period up to seven years.”

A map showing the disputed region of Kashmir and Jammu. Image source: VOA news
A map showing the disputed region of Kashmir and Jammu. Image source: VOA news

The bill also mandates that all individuals and companies producing maps in India, and all Indian citizens doing so globally should procure a license from the government.

Citizens and stakeholders will have 30 days to comment 30 days to comment on the proposed bill, released to the public on Wednesday, May 25.

ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS:

The government also has proposed to set up a Security Vetting Authority to carry out security vetting of the Geospatial Information of India in a time bound manner and as per the regulations framed by an apex committee. According to the draft bill, the Security Vetting Authority, on receipt of an application and after examining the application in terms of the guidelines, shall either grant the license or reject the application as the case may be. The act will extend to the whole of India and also applies to citizens of India outside India, persons in the service of the government, persons on ships and aircrafts, registered in India, any person who commits an offence beyond India.

The Draft Bill will ensure that online platforms like Google will have to apply for a licence to run Google Maps or Google Earth in India.

ORIGIN:

This issue was triggered at a time when international agencies, social networking sites and online services such as Google Maps was showing regions of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as a part of Pakistan and China respectively.

Trouble is, the Indian government’s definition of its borders are drawn not according to the area it controls, but rather as if all of its ongoing territorial disputes with China and Pakistan were already settled in India’s favor.

Image caption China and India fought a brief war over their disputed Himalayan borders in 1962. Image source: BBC
China and India fought a brief war over their disputed Himalayan borders in 1962. Image source: BBC

This is not the first time India has shown its sensitivity about the representation of its borders. The country admonished Google, first in December 2005 and then again in 2013, for showing Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as part of Pakistan in various Google products. A 2014 report from the US Department of Defense made the same cartographic choice, catching the attention of Indian media. Now, Google Maps won’t highlight any borders of the country.

HOW THIS IS RELATED TO MODI GOVERNMENT

The draft law is in line with the nationalist agenda of India’s two-year-old government led by Narendra Modi. His government’s supporters have brought what they see to be numerous map-based transgressions to the fore through social media. A year ago, Al Jazeera was forced to stop broadcasting in the country for five days after the surveyor general announced that “a portion of Indian territory has not been shown as a part of India in some of [Al Jazeera’s] maps while the territorial boundary of India is not shown with clarity and proper shape in another map.”

Of course, if Pakistan and China, which also are sensitive about their borders, started prosecuting under similar laws, it would be impossible to make a map of the region including political borders without running afoul of any of the nations’ laws.

-by Pavithraa Swaminathan

Pavithraa is a blogger and an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: @Pavith_peaked

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This was necessary as to stop people getting false information. This could create issues and riots as there is already a threat to our state J&K

  • Shivang Goel

    There were numerous events and incidents last year relating to the political boundaries of India,even Australia too made the mistake earlier,anyways as far as penalties are concerned it would be difficult to even apply these penalties on International institutions like Maps,because they doesnt comes in any jurisdiction,also Government has to pay a fair amount to include the clause in their existing agreement ,all n all a good step forward to minimize minute of chances over the issue

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    India-Pakistan border is among the most sensitive borders of the world and so sensitive is the issue of J&K. This was a necessary step to be taken in order to avoid any more conflicts and riots.

  • devika todi

    such a step needed to be taken. people should be correctly informed about the border lines of the country.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This was necessary as to stop people getting false information. This could create issues and riots as there is already a threat to our state J&K

  • Shivang Goel

    There were numerous events and incidents last year relating to the political boundaries of India,even Australia too made the mistake earlier,anyways as far as penalties are concerned it would be difficult to even apply these penalties on International institutions like Maps,because they doesnt comes in any jurisdiction,also Government has to pay a fair amount to include the clause in their existing agreement ,all n all a good step forward to minimize minute of chances over the issue

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    India-Pakistan border is among the most sensitive borders of the world and so sensitive is the issue of J&K. This was a necessary step to be taken in order to avoid any more conflicts and riots.

  • devika todi

    such a step needed to be taken. people should be correctly informed about the border lines of the country.

Next Story

Big reforms made India fastest growing major economies globally: Garg

It also has enormous implications for emerging markets and developing countries

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The RBI building in Mumbai. Photo credit: AFP/Sajjad Hussain

The major reforms undertaken by the Indian government for raising economic growth and maintaining macroeconomic stability have made the country one of the fastest growing major economies in the world, said Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA).

Garg was addressing the Special Event hosted by US-India Strategic Partnership Forum on ‘Indian Economy: Prospect and Challenges’ in Washington D.C on Friday.

Indian economy needs big reform.

He said the launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) represented an “historic economic and political achievement, unprecedented in Indian tax and economic reforms, which has rekindled optimism on structural reforms.” He further emphasized that India carried-out such major reforms when the global economy was slow.

“With the cyclical recovery in global growth amid supportive monetary conditions and the transient impact of the major structural reforms over, India will continue to perform robustly,” Garg said.

During his meetings, Garg highlighted that the digital age technologies have profound implications for policies concerning every aspects of the economy. It also has enormous implications for emerging markets and developing countries.

Also Read: Biggest Bank Frauds Which Shook The Indian Economy

He expressed that the response to such a transformation will have to shift from ‘catch up’ growth to adoption/adaption of digital technologies for development and growth.

Garg also informed that India has started adopting policies and programmes for transforming systems of delivery of services using digital technologies and connecting every Indian with digital technologies and access through Aadhaar and other such means.

Indian economy should be on rise. www.mapsofindia.com

While citing the example of expanding mobile data access, he mentioned that India is now the largest consumer of mobile data in the world with 11 gigabytes mobile data consumption per month. He informed that India is investing in digital technologies, encouraging private sector to adapt these technologies and also addressing the taxation related issues by introducing equalisation levy.

Garg is currently on an official tour to Washington D.C. to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and other associated meetings. He is accompanied by Urjit Patel, Governor, Reserve Bank of India and other senior officials. IANS