After decades of discussions, deliberations, representations & recommendations the maps of India continue to be caged.
You have heard about it in numerous seminars, conferences and top-level scientific meetings. And you have heard it for decades. It’s a pity, when technology grows and changes leaps and bounds in a matter of months, if not years; we in India have been discussing same issues again and again.. (Maybe some foreigners rightly say that Indians are good at debates). De-restriction of maps, removing secrecy from Aerial photography, integrated strategy for geographic information…these are the issues which were being raised in the early seventies. And the same issues confront the GIS user in India, at the beginning of the new millenium.
Despite all, we all know that we can’t shy away from the problems. We have to give it a try, once again. It is this spirit which has lead us to produce a special section on the ‘Geographic Information in India : Policy Issues’.
If GIS industry has any intention to flourish in India it has no other choice but to face the issues affecting its growth. The issues are serious and so are their implications. Data availability, accessibility, quality, documentation and dissemination have remained critical issues for all of us. People are not aware what information is available, and where it can be sourced. There is a woeful absence of any system for the systematic documentation of data and meta-data. As if these are not enough, there exists a strong tendency to keep data secret. To tap the potential benefits, policy interventions in the data related issues are a must. In this context, not only is it important to examine the current existing policies but also to recommend policy initiatives necessary to promote the development of spatial data infrastructure.
The special section of [email protected] is divided into three subsections, (i) problem identification, (ii) sectoral implications and (iii) a search for solutions. A document map has been displayed in the beginning of each article, to indicate the reader on which stage of the thought process of evolution of a geographic information policy he is dealing with in the section.
This is a part of our on-going effort to raise issues and question the prevalent attitudes of various stakeholders. By initiating a debate, and providing a forum for exchange of ideas, it is our hope that the powers that be will stand up and listen. We look forward to your views on the subject. We are launching an Internet discussion forum for better exchange of ideas on this issue. To access this forum just log on to www.egroups.com/groups/gis-at-development or email to [email protected]
Looking forward to your comments and suggestions on our effort.