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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

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

ALSO READ:

  • 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.

SHARE
  • 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

Amazon Plans to Close its Domestic Marketplace in China by Mid-July

Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Denmark and Japan via the firm’s global store

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FILE - Amazon plans to close its domestic marketplace in China to focus on more lucrative businesses there. VOA

Amazon.com Inc. plans to close its domestic marketplace in China by mid-July, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, focusing efforts on more lucrative businesses selling overseas goods and cloud services in the world’s most populous nation.

Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Denmark and Japan via the firm’s global store. Amazon expects to close fulfillment centers and wind down support for domestic-selling merchants in China in the next 90 days, one of the people said.

Home-grown e-commerce

The move underscores how entrenched, home-grown e-commerce rivals have made it difficult for Amazon’s marketplace to gain a foothold. Consumer insights firm iResearch Global said Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Tmall marketplace and JD.com Inc. controlled 81.9 percent of the Chinese market last year.

“They’re pulling out because it’s not profitable and not growing,” said analyst Michael Pachter at Wedbush Securities. Ker Zheng, marketing specialist at Shenzhen-based e-commerce consultancy Azoya, said Amazon had no major competitive advantage in China over its domestic rivals.

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FILE – A logo of JD.com is seen on a helmet of a delivery man in Beijing, June 16, 2014. VOA

Unless someone is searching for a very specific imported good that can’t be found elsewhere, “there’s no reason for a consumer to pick Amazon because they’re not going to be able to ship things as fast as Tmall or JD,” he said.

Amazon’s customers in China will still be able to purchase the firm’s Kindle e-readers and online content, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing unit that sells data storage and computing power to enterprises, will remain as well.

The U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba and JD.com rose 1% Wednesday after Reuters first reported the move, before paring gains later in the day. Amazon’s shares closed flat.

US retreat, e-commerce showdown

The withdrawal of the world’s largest online retailer — founded by the world’s richest person — comes amid a broader e-commerce slowdown in China. Alibaba in January reported its lowest quarterly earnings growth since 2016, while JD.com is responding to the changing business environment with staff cuts.

 

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FILE – A worker removes an advertisement billboard of Indian online marketplace Flipkart, installed along the roadside in Mumbai, India, Oct. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is concentrating on India and its competition, Flipkart. VOA

It also follows the Chinese e-commerce retreat of other big-name Western retailers. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sold its Chinese online shopping platform to JD.com in 2016 in return for a stake in JD.com to focus on its bricks-and-mortar stores.

Similarly, the country appears to factor less in the global aspirations of fellow U.S. tech majors Netflix Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Pachter said.

ALSO READ: Microsoft, Amazon in Race For $10bn Pentagon Project

Amazon bought Chinese online shopping website Joyo.com in 2004 for $75 million, rebranding the business in 2011 as Amazon China. But in a sign of Tmall’s dominance, Amazon nevertheless opened an online store on the Alibaba site in 2015.

The firm is still expanding aggressively in other countries, notably India, where it is contending with local rival Flipkart. (VOA)