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Anti thesis of Modinomics

Anti thesis of Modinomics
Highlights

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of \'Make in India\' last September, India Inc was elated as it had the potential to attract both Indian and foreign capital across a range of 25 sectors at least. 

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of 'Make in India' last September, India Inc was elated as it had the potential to attract both Indian and foreign capital across a range of 25 sectors at least.

The initiative was aimed at making India a global hub of excellence, encouraging ease of doing business in India.

However, when the Union Home Ministry publicised a draft of The Geospatial Information Bill, 2016’ the other day, warning of fines of up to Rs 100 crore and imprisonment of seven years, all hell broke loose. The Bill is the very anti-thesis of Modinomics and an impediment to making India grow smart in every sense.

No doubt, there is already a talk of getting the Bill scrapped as it is completely out of sync with the government policies. It is said that though the Bill has been on the anvil since 2012, the January Pathankot terror visit prompted the department to incorporate such harsh measures into it.

The Earth Sciences Ministry has already been inundated with concerns from the local and the international geospatial industry, seeking relief from the draconian punishments cited in the Bill.

The preamble to it says it was a Bill to regulate the acquisition, dissemination, publication and distribution of geospatial information of India which is likely to affect the security, sovereignty and integrity of India and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Look at the tyranny of it all when it says that anything between possession of geospatial data without the permission of the Security Vetting Authority (SVA) to disseminating the same is a criminal offence. Imagine possessing a mobile with Google maps in this context in a country where even archaic laws are exploited to trample on individual freedom!

The Bill entrusts the government with sweeping control “on individual, a company, a firm, a trust, an association of persons or a body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, every artificial juridical person, not falling within any of the preceding sub-clauses,

and any agency, office or branch owned or controlled by any of the above persons mentioned in the preceding sub-clauses with reference to geospatial imagery or data acquired through space or aerial platforms such as satellite, aircraft, airships, balloons,

unmanned aerial vehicles including value addition; or graphical or digital data depicting natural or man-made physical features, phenomenon or boundaries of the earth or any information related thereto including surveys, charts, maps, terrestrial photos referenced to a co-ordinate system and having attributes.”

As for the Bill, the definition of geospatial data means everything from satellite imagery, to atlases, books, magazines, car navigation systems and GPS-enabled devices like cameras, smart phones and tablets. Nothing could be manufactured without prior clearance from the SVA and this could also lead to yet another licence Raj which Modi wants to oust.

Questions were raised on whether the subscribers of any magazine would also be penalised for the possession of the same if a wrongly depicted map of India appears in it. Such is the fear it evoked! This is a regressive bill by all means and not in any one's interest. Dump it Mr Modi!

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