• Map restriction policy has lost validity
    The write-up by Mr. Vinod Kumar in the February 2000 issue, ‘Liberalisation of Map Digitisation’ very correctly points out the problem of map restriction policy in India and the mismanagement of the Government of India resources. In this era of space technology, when we have high resolution satellite images of 2 metres and more, what is left to the imagination? The British formed the Survey of India, they mapped India and when they left the country, a copy of all the maps of the Survey of India were in Britain. These maps can always be used as base data and can be updated with considerable accuracy using remotely sensed data. Therefore, our up-to-date topographic maps are available in Britain to anyone who wants to purchase them, but in India we don’t get them readily.

    There are a few more points and I would like to share them with your learned readership. To a certain extent, it is a myth that we have paucity of resources in our country. India which spends hundreds of million rupees on duplication of data should not have this complaint; it is rather a case of mismanagement and not of paucity of resources. There are many agencies doing the same work like the Department of Space, the Department of Science and Technology, the National Informatics Centre; the Geological Survey has also recently started a similar work. Probably this mismanagement is because we don’t have any standard data base for our country and the concept of meta-data has not been popularised much; it needs some specific attention as usually we don’t have an idea of where to look for a particular data. The establishment of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) by the Planning Commission was basically for information collection, storage and dissemination. The NIC is having its district data centres almost all over the country and this facility should be used. Now that Geographical Information System has become popular, we should now standardise our data and data base and store the data that are required by the decision- makers and planners on the net; this will certainly improve the efficiency of administrators besides time and cost-effectiveness in data collection by the user agencies.

    GIS should be introduced at the grass roots level and meta-data is the need of the hour to improve the efficacy of our administrative and data management systems. The NIC may be encouraged to establish block-level data centres on the lines of its district level data centres in view of the national policy of decentralised planning at the Panchayat and village levels. The late Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, initiated the process of block-level data centres and a pilot programme was taken up in Amethi, U.P., which, however, got aborted after his tenure. The building in the tehsil office Amethi is still a reminder of a lost initiative.

    Saif ud din,
    Remote Sensing Applications Centre,
    7-B, Old Shibli Road,
    Aligarh Muslim University,
    Aligarh-202002, U.P.

  • Help the starters

    I have read the article on Aerial Photography in the March issue of [email protected] It is quite interesting as it explains all the fundamental things about Aerial Photography. I appreciate the efforts of the author in simplifying the things. I would also suggest him to give the basic things about the area being focussed every month in the magazine. It will be very useful to the ‘starters’, by making things clear.

    GIS Analyst, IIC Technologies, Hyderabad.

  • Priceless sarcasm

    I am most impressed by the Editorial of the March 2000 issue. The last paragraph is absolutely delightful. The sarcasm is priceless. I have made some of my other friends read it, and they all were delighted. But will the authorities wake up? I doubt very much.

    I would also like to tell you that your journal is making a very good impression among scientists. One of my friends has already subscribed to it, and the others are intending to.

    S. M. Mathur
    Geological Consultant, B-15 Alokpuri, Ravindrapalli, Lucknow-226016, U.P.
    Tel: (0522) 341889. Fax: 91-522-381047.

  • Focus on GIS innovations

    Just recently, I unexpectedly acquired a copy of the “Millennium” issue of [email protected] The historical perspectives of cartography and GIS technology seemed even more awe-inspiring in the midst of pages of advertisements featuring the latest/greatest GIS technologies and products. Kudos to you. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the old and new (clay to computers), but I had hoped to see more substantive articles related to the vital role GIS will play in future public health and environmental issues; i.e. as a predictive tool for conditions conducive to disease outbreaks, malaria, encephalitis, etc. The issue’s timeline indicates past mapping innovations were born out of political and military necessity. One may predict (and hope) future timelines will feature GIS innovations originating from global environmental health concerns. Indeed, “prediction is a risky business”, but I dare say the majority of this millennium issue indicates the future is really in advertising…
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