Cartographic Challenges at the Dawn of the New Millennium

Cartographic Challenges at the Dawn of the New Millennium


Ferjan Ormeling
Email: [email protected]

Founded on 7 August 1979, at Hyderabad, the Indian Cartographic Association (INCA) has evolved into one of the biggest organisations of its kind in the world. From a modest beginning with 79 members on its roll initially, today it is a grand body of over 1800 Life Members and 70 reputed institutions. It has branches functioning at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Dehra Dun, Delhi Hyderabad, Indore, Jodhpur, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram.

INCA is devoted to the cause of Cartography as a graphic mode of communication. It has in its fold most eminent scholars, professionals and industrialists. The bulk of its members hail from Mapping/Charting Organisations, Universities and other Scientific and Research Institutes spread across the whole of India and foreign countries.

With about 200 participants, mainly from the subcontinent, Dehra Dun saw the 20th annual cartographic conference of the Indian National Cartographic Association (INCA), from February 28 – March 2, 2001. The participants were heralded to a three-day high level lecture programme, with an exhibition and excursion to the National Hydrographic Office. With over 1800 members, INCA is one of the larger member organisations of the International Cartographic Association (ICA). The local organising committee consisted mainly of staff of the Survey of India (one of if not the oldest national mapping organisations in the world, established in 1767), and was chaired by S.K. Basu, Additional Surveyor General, with Brig K.K. Naithani as Organising Secretary. The congress was inaugurated by the Governor of the newly constituted state of Uttaranchal, Surjit Singh Barnala. The inaugural function started with the address by Lt Gen A.K. Ahuja, President of INCA and Surveyor General of India which was followed by a keynote address by Rear Admiral K.R. Srinivasan, Chief Hydrographer to the Government of India. An ICA representative had been graciously invited to participate and to address the congress.

Two recent Survey of India publications, ‘Conventional Signs for Topographical Maps in the Digital Environment’ and the state map of Uttaranchal, were also released by the State Governor during the inaugural function.

After the opening of the exhibition, 6 technical sessions followed, devoted, respectively, to:

  • emerging new technologies for mapping terrestrial resources
  • new horizons in cartographic education
  • role of Geomatics in planning sustainable development
  • role of Geomatics in economic governance/large scale databases
  • structural requirements of the national digital cartographic databse
  • relevance of space geodesy in cartography and coastal zone management.

Other important congress elements were the prize distribution to the winners of the INCA National Geo-Map Quiz, a cultural evening with performances from all parts of India, a presentation by the vendors exhibiting at the congress and a panel discussion on the cartographic challenges at the dawn of the new millennium.

The style of the technical sessions was such, that first one or two invited papers were presented followed by up to 7 other papers on the subject. Amongst the invited ones were papers by Brig M.M. Datta (local organiser of the fourth ICA conference in New Delhi in 1968) on future cartographic education; on the emergence of geographic information services, by Brig K.K. Naithani; and on the public-private interface in cartography, by Dr P. Nag, Director of the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation in Calcutta. In the panel discussion, chaired by the ICA Secretary General, the panellists focused on the central theme of the congress ‘Cartographic challenges at the dawn of the new millennium’. Other highlights showing the high level and creative contributions of Indian Researchers were about Cartosat, a mapping endeavour of the Indian Space Research Organisation, about XML based GIS platforms for dynamic updates (by V.S. Shroff) and an insightful paper into the potential of cartographic education in a Geomatics environment by Prof. B. Arunachalam.