• LIS… for whom?

    “Where there is a will there is a way” Good Information System (GIS) is for honest, patriotic and for persons having fire in their belly to root out corruption from the nation. Congratulations for the design of the front page of April 2K issue of your esteem magazine. It depicts the true picture of NOIDA becoming a slum under the bureaucrats of Uttar Pradesh. Who wants Land Information System? Land is with those who are not the owners. Land is being misused for which it is not meant for. Land is not with poor, hungry and social farmers, but it is with caste leaders, money lenders and Government Patwaries, can you get the correct records from Patwari? Never. The Income Tax department should raid the patwaries who are having records of about 5,87,226 villages in 5,428 blocks of about 557 districts. I am sure the IT department will be able to recover thousands of crores of rupees from LRMS (Land Record Management Scandal). It will be the right tribute to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi “Gram Uthan is True Swaraj”. Government departments are eating Government money on the pretext of Computerisation of Land Record Management. True CLRM is only possible if the government in association with GIS based expert NGOs, Public and Block level team of district is formed to have GIS-based CLRM solution with accountability.

    Vinod Kumar,
    Adhyaksh, Udyog Bharti,
    Meerut Prant, Uttar Pradesh.
    Email: [email protected]
    Tel: (0118) 4538899, 4556415.

  • GIS in Geography

    The value of geography as a subject is losing its utility value in India in respect of job opportunity. There is hardly any taker  for a geographer, or those who study this subject rarely have a job opportunity besides teaching. I know many of my friends who have jumped into marketing or any XYZ professions after completion of their masters’ degree. Why does it happen?

    On the basis of my own experience and realisations, I can elaborate some of the reasons lying behind it. When I was a student of Post Graduate (1998), none of my teachers spoke about the scope in GIS profession for geographers, neither they knew about it. It is sad that the subject which is preoccupied with spatial variations and differentiation since its inception, is today losing its popularity for the lack of any taker. The situation is so grim specially in western India that in many colleges the department is about to close for lack of students. On the other hand, there are lots of hue and cry for components of spatial study or GIS tools.

    Nowadays, people are talking about spatial reference for distribution of phenomena in regional study which is the heart  of geographic science. But it is equally sad that in India, Geography departments in colleges are not yet geared to harness the early advantage of it. Still today, you will find many teachers and professors in colleges and universities who hardly know about GIS, neither are they interested to learn or try to introduce in their respective academic institutes.

    I happen to come across such a university  where, due to single-handed effort of one professor, GIS was brought into their department but I was surprised to know that none of the faculty members (out of ten) really had the interest to learn, excepting the first person after nearly two years of its installation. Out of my curiosity, one day I asked those teachers about the reason for their lack of interest, and I was shocked by their reply. Their interest was lacking just because they know that extra money will not be paid to them if they learn it. Now think about the future research in this area. If this is the mentality of the teachers, how will the students learn? How many geography departments of Indian universities have actually tried to utilise the advantage of GIS tools which they should have tried before people from other discipline jumped into it?

    However, I do not want to blame entirely the faculty members. Some other factors also stand as the hindrance in installation of GIS tools in academic institutions. It needs lakhs of rupees to build in full-fledged GIS laboratory and most of the universities are cash-crunched. But still, considering its advantages and relevance in the context of geography, there must be some initiatives to teach GIS in geographic curriculum, for which the University Grants Commission (UGC) should take a lead through allocating funds  to the Geography departments. It is not always true that  GIS is unaffordable for Indian universities. There are GIS vendors like ESRI, who sell their products to the institutions at 1/4th of commercial price. Because it is all about geography and all these spatial analysis, network analysis, buffer generation, proximity analysis, projection, service area generation  etc. are included in the curriculum of  practical geography  before the invention of GIS.

    • have seen that you are  the most vocal through your editorial columns and communicate your protest against government data policies, spatial data secrecy act through holding seminars, conferences and lots of other activities. I will also request you to highlight the following issues and create a pressure group for the sake of students’ community or those aspiring to be GIS professionals:
    • Introduction of GIS (Practical and theory) in geographic curriculum;
    • Access of GIS  training for undergraduates as well as post-graduate students beside age-old outdated practical curriculum;
    • There should be some initiatives from GIS vendors to sell their products at a cheaper rate to the educational institutes.
    • Highlighting regularly in your magazine about the cost of different GIS products and other desirable configuration for the beginner because most of the teachers ignore it;
    • Carrying a survey at the institutional level regarding the status of GIS education in various universities;
    • Starting a career guideline for GIS aspirant professionals;
    • Calling a national seminar/workshop involving various national and international experts in formulating GIS syllabus for students at  undergraduate, graduate and post graduate levels keeping with mind  present need of the industry;
    • Setting up a regular degree or diploma programmes in GIS at the university level.

    Bhutnath Bhattacharya
    Email: [email protected]

  • Need for Hydrographic and Oceanographic Database

    I feel that creating a central database for “Hydrographic and Oceanographic Data for marine resources of India under professional agency of the Government of India by using GIS” is an imminent need. At present, government agencies such as NHO, NIO, MPSO, Port Trust, State Maritime Board and a number of private agencies are collecting hydrographic and oceanographic data as per their own requirements. Because of lack of coordination and authentication data, they are unable to exchange the same for the use of different agencies for different purposes. Therefore, there is need to set up a central coordinating agency for (1) standardising and monitoring data collection by various agencies and (2) creating and updating the central database of hydrographic and oceanographic data through the internet. This type of government agency might be helpful for (1) vessel traffic management, (2) notices to mariners, (3) exploration and exploitation of marine resources, (4) updating ENC and ECDIS, (5) all types of coastal development, (6) monitoring sea level and (7) research and development about marine life and many more other aspects.

    N. R. Raut,
    Assistant Hydrographic Surveyor,
    Minor Port Survey Organisation,
    Ministry of Surface Transport, Mumbai.

  • Andhra Plans to import IKONOS Image… but WHY?

    The interview of D. P. Rao, Director, NRSA on ‘Future Scenario of Remote Sensing Data Usage is very promising ‘ in the April 2000 issue of [email protected] is quite optimistic and encouraging, but still remote sensing has not reached the root level. As pointed out by the Director, remote sensing is to be introduced in the curriculum of the University Grants Commission and the Department of Space can make joint efforts.

    The government of India may encourage usage of remote sensing technology by various central and state government agencies and particularly usage of indigenous data. This is to seek attention of readers on the news in the Times of India of 15th June, 2000 wherein it is stated that Andhra Pradesh is having a Rs. 50 crore project funded by the World Bank for Cyclone Hazard Mitigation for which they want to procure satellite imageries from space technology and have made huge investment on its space programme.

    In India, meteorologists have been using satellite images for monitoring storms for about 30 years. The infrared sensor aboard orbiting satellite began providing day and night observations while geostationary satellites provided continuous coverage during daytime. There exists an efficient cyclone warming system in India, which is comparable to the best in the world. It is known that a network of 10 cyclone detection radar covering cast and west coasts is being used with a range of 400 km and beyond 400 km range the intensity and movement is monitored with the help of INSAT and NOAA series of satellites. INSAT provides every three hourly cloudy pictures over the Indian sub-continent. For precise location, half-hourly pictures are used. We in our country have Area Cyclone Warming Centres at Calcutta, Chennai and Mumbai and Cyclone Warming at Bhubaneshwar, Vishakapatnam and Ahmedabad, besides 100 Disaster warming Systems have been installed in the cyclone prone villages of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu which are to be further expanded. There seems to be lack of understanding in our country, people are in technological race, without knowing what they wish to achieve. I am unable to understand why Andhra Pradesh government plans to import IKONOS images, as cyclone is neither micro-level phenomenon nor one time, it is recurrent and regional .We shall need real time data for its monitoring, management and mitigation for which we have excellent facility, the more the AP government shall consider is to strengthen the existing infrastructure available.In India we have INSAT and IRS series of satellites which are providing data continuously. High–resolution data with spatial resolution of about 5 metres is available in our country. The Technology Experiment Satellite (TES) is proposed to be launched in July, 2000 having a Pan resolution of 2.5 metres will be a better alternative. Since India plans to launch Cartosat-1 in 2002 and Cartosat-II in 2003 with a spatial resolution of 2.5 metre and one metre respectively, which will add a new dimension to usage of remotely sensed data. The Government of India that they will not import space data in our country unless it is essentially required to take a policy decision.

    Saif ud din
    Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh