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“Brig. Sinha’s letter is devoid of humility and knowledge”

– Sanjib Ghosh

Thank you for permitting me to comment on the letter you received from Survey of India (SoI) written by Brig. A.K.Sinha, Dy Director, Digital Mapping Centre. Please allow me to comment first on the attitude and next on the contents :

  1. Re: The Attitude: The letter (the last paragraph in particular) appears to give an attitude that is devoid of humility and knowledge of the subject matter. This is a public servant who is supposed to have up to date understanding of the technology of his profession. SoI is not an agency of a colonial power. The organization and its employees are public servants in a democratic republic and are fully accountable in all regards. A scientific journal like yours is also a public forum for exchange of ideas and views and not for personal mudslinging. Any contributor has the responsibility to be “civil” and scientifically correct in his own domain. Unfortunately, the Brigadier’s letter disappoints me in these regards.
  2. Re: The Contents: [References are to the paragraphs of his letter] Para 1: Shri E.R.Wilson (a reverted civilian officer from his war-time military rank), being at that time the seniormost director at the SoI Headquarters, was appointed “Acting” Surveyor General (SG) for a brief period until a Brigadier was finally appointed. Such “acting” SGs could handle only routine matters and had no real power like taking any policy decisions. In 1974, during the tenure of Dr. Hari Narain, the Govt. of India decided to open the post to civilians. This correspondent and Dr. P. Karan were interviewed by the UPSC. Inspite of the fact that the two civilian candidates were selected as Nos 1 and 2, a Brigadier was appointed and given the rank of Maj. General. But that is history now.

    Para 2: The statements like, “Published … etc.” are nothing but editorial statements and are legacies from the British rulers. In most countries, these are under copyright laws and one single statement can cover all categories of maps to provide legal protections. Mathur, in his paper, did not “distort” (as purported by Sinha) the facts. He simply pointed out, very logically, that a change is badly needed.

    Para 3: With regard to GPS, I would like to point out the fallacies in both statements (0.5 m by Mathur and 4 to 5 cm by Sinha). They both refer to the “Least Count” in various GPS measuring procedures. Furthermore, Sinha’s statement on “Absolute Accuracy” is a misnomer. The term “Accuracy” relates to the quality of a result as is distinguished from precision or least-count, which relates to the quality of individual operations or observations. There is thus nothing “absolute” in this. If GPS observations can be so accurate (as Sinha claims), may be SoI should consider discarding the Great Trigonometrical/Geodetic Triangulation control network !!

    Para 4: This is the height of ignorance on the part of the Dy. Director. He should be well aware of the Lambert Grid superprinted on SoI maps [similar to the State Plane Coordinate systems in the USA] and the US Army Maps simply give these – not just “only help traveller..” (as purported by Sinha).

    Para 5: Sinha is beating around the bush. NRSA is an Indian Organisation. SoI would be better off in cooperating and serving the nation jointly with this sister organisation. It is unfortunate that Sinha is mixing up “..identify a small village with a dot ..” (by Mathur) with his own “..represented by .. one mm square..”

  3. Finally : Mathur, an eminent scientist in his own right, a retired director (similar to SG) of a sister organization with SOI in the same ministry, has no personal axe to grind. He brought up an issue which merits national considerations and speedy solutions. The Brig. and his supervisors would do it right if they address themselves to the principal issue (summarised so clearly in the conclusion by Mathur) and serve the nation as also their own field of science/technology. May be, our concerted efforts should be directed to the Ministry rather than wasting the time and efforts lost in unproductive responses from Dy. Directors.


About the Author
Sanjib Ghosh is an NRI-US Citizen now, ex-resident of what is now Bangladesh, ex-employee (13 years, 3 of which were as Chief Instructor in aerial mapping) of Survey of India, former consultant (12 years) of the United Nations (at their Cartographic Office), and now a professor-emiritus of the Ohio State and Lavel Universities.

He has had extensive involvement in the International and American Societies for Photogrammetry and Remote sensing (ISPRS and ASPRS) in various offices and has extensive teaching and research experience in the areas of satellite and aerial photographic mapping related matters with several universities in the world and with SoI, NASA-USA, UNO and Canadian committee on Remote Sensing. Presently, Mr. Ghosh is in New Mumbai as Instructor Consultant for a US Aerial Mapping Company in establishing their Computer Aided Mapping with four Indian engineers.
E-mail: [email protected]