When one of the largest democracies goes for elections the next month, there is no escaping the oft-repeated question: ‘Is India really a democracy, as it is made out to be, or is it hypocrisy in the garb of democracy?’. From the perspective of the map user community, in this situation, one cannot help notice the flaws in the system.
When India is shining and the world is watching it shine, what is more undemocratic than the fact that India spends billions in launching its remote sensing satellites, but its citizens still don’t have an easy access to the data produced by them?
What is more undemocratic than the fact that majority of its citizens still do not have access to detailed maps produced by their government using their money?
What is more undemocratic than the fact that the citizens have restricted or no access to aerial photographs and satellite imageries of their own neighbourhoods, towns or cities (to which perhaps a Pakistani or a Chinese has better access)?
What is more undemocratic than the fact that more than twenty national spatial data producers in various themes still don’t have data sharing agreements between themselves?
Is it democracy when Indian GIS companies get limited opportunities to provide GIS solutions to their own cities, but get unlimited scope abroad and deliver well?
Where is democracy when I have to pay hefty bribes to have access to records of my land from the local authorities sitting in Delhi?
What is democracy when a school child has better access to a map of America than the map of his village?