Ravi Gupta Just twelve years and we are back to fighting. Since scrutiny and analysis of this debacle are innumerable across every medium of media, I shall refrain from delving into the depths.

Interestingly we see discussions forming distinct categories. An interesting link of thoughts is regarding the criticality of the US dollar in question. Martin Wolf of The Financial Times, at a recent workshop at the National Council of Applied Economic Research, elaborated upon reasons why the US economy, for all its noticeable strength, is in risk of adverse repercussions and could take the dollar down. Thoughts are provoked naturally about the reflections behind the war as a platform to address that. Another critical positioning is the basic facts of hundreds of civilians dying vis-à-vis the claim by the pro-war factions of liberating the repressed from torture. Oil and humanitarian grounds also ignite a whole army of discussions. The history (of Iraq) again takes its own rationale and has a point no doubt. Multi-national associations, which are considered as the ‘united forum’ for every international issues have raised eyebrows about their validity. A thousand questions are forming everyday in many minds. A thousand and one answers are thrown back simultaneously everyday.

But what does all these translate to, in the geomatics landscape?

Technologies such as GIS, GPS and remote sensing which essentially play a role and raise the levels of ‘technical-soundness-boasting’ in warfare, has come under speculation. Techniques for the purposes of damage rather than development have always triggered criticisms. This time is not much different. Claims of accuracy, technology and precision are questionable, since the battlefield here is urban, the targets are those same civilians for whose freedom the war is fought and the main obstacles are not enemy soldiers but human civilian shields. Instances of ‘friendly fires’, a whole genre of precision maps, DEMs, satellite images and GPS enabled techniques does make us think – are these necessary and the right use of technology? Averments of high technical supremacy in warfare, calls for reassessment when the prime tactical moves are being re-structured towards street level guerrilla combat rather than satellite guided missiles. What we might shrug off as collateral (friendly) damage need redefinitions.

Who wins is immaterial, even with what techniques is irrelevant. For is it not merely a war of egos, or the ego of being mighty? As far as geomatics is concerned as a technology, its role is much more intrinsic in stages later than now, i.e., the post-war gulf development, or I should correctly just say.. in matters of ‘development’.

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