Journey without maps

The strange strictures proposed by the Geospatial Bill will be the death of cartography.

By: Express News Service | Published: May 9, 2016 12:01 am
india, map of india, wrong india map, india map, wrong india map crime, pok, kashmir, china occupied kashmir, anti-national, correct india map, incorrect india map fine, india map, india china border dispute, arunachal pradesh china, china arunachal pradesh, kashmir pakistan, paskitan kashmir, india news Failure to correctly depict the borders of India could attract a fine of up to Rs 100 crore, before the poor offending bozo is dragged away to the cooler for seven years. (Source: Google Maps)

The draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill of 2016 is so perfectly ridiculous that one can only hope that it falls off the map before it can be tabled in the House. Publishers the world over have learned, to their bewildered amusement, that India censors maps of itself. Now, to strike fear into their anti-national gizzards, the government has invoked an official map censor, a babu-led organisation whose prior permission will be required to publish geospatial information, which is newspeak for maps. Failure to correctly depict the borders of India could attract a fine of up to Rs 100 crore, before the poor offending bozo is dragged away to the cooler for seven years. With this draft, the government has embarked on a journey without maps, which must rapidly become directionless.

The terminology of the draft is psychotically comprehensive. “Whoever depicts, disseminates, publishes or distributes any wrong or false topographic information of India” can be held to account. Apart from printers, publishers, media and filmmakers who depict maps in their productions, this would include private citizens posting on social media, and even village children scrawling maps with chalk on their slates. But wouldn’t the last two be culpable even if their maps were reasonably accurate? They didn’t take prior permission, did they? Off to the cooler with them! The ambit of speculation opened up by this bill is limitless. Now, can we please sue the estates of Vasco da Gama and Marco Polo for embarking for the East with wildly inaccurate maps? Is Alfred Wegener culpable for identifying the forces of continental drift, which slowly but inexorably alter land masses? Continental drift will one day cause Uttar Pradesh to vanish under Nepal, which is clearly an anti-national act, on par with the loss of Aksai Chin. But what about erroneous maps which enlarge the land mass of India instead of whittling it down? Will the map of Akhand Bharat see the RSS in the dock? Should expansiveness of the spirit be penalised thus?

Once upon a time in the history of the nation, it was considered normal to harbour pointless anxieties about Aksai Chin. Indeed, it was the nationalistic thing to do. But now, we know that maps are supposed to depict real boundaries on the ground. They demarcate the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. They delineate geography, not history, and putting ugly purple censor’s stamps on them when they differ from our conception of the ideal world is a sadly ineffectual, purely gestural, way of trying to correct historical wrongs. The only saving grace is that it is better than the traditional stratagem which governments use to alter maps — war.

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App

  1. A
    May 9, 2016 at 1:28 pm
    Except showing stupidity of highest order your editorial educate nothing.If you hate and have bias with the present dispensation then criticise it on genuine points,not on every issue.This way look cheap which can only be ridiculed.
    1. Hiren Borkhatariya
      May 14, 2016 at 4:41 pm
      is it necessary to drag RSS in every single thing happening in India??lt;br/gt;ridiculous article.
      1. j
        May 8, 2016 at 7:34 pm
        So if on school exam a student draws a "wrong" map he/she would not only lose marks but could also be fined and prosecuted. I would just not attempt that question.
        1. P
          May 10, 2016 at 5:09 am
          Good job by government. Ridiculously dumb article.. You can refer to just one map of India for borders.. And me too that borders as per Indian government map of India... Version 2017 or;br/gt;Making map is not a common man's business.... Not even uncommon man's... If you formally publish a map of India, get boundaries from formal map of Government. Of;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The editor is crying foul like SaaS in sas bahu serials....
          1. S
            May 13, 2016 at 6:49 am
            Agreed, map making is generally not a common man's buissness . but what about geotagged photos? navigation facility which we avail using apps , pizza delivery ..... even people taking selfies ..everything will now need a license.
            1. Load More Comments