India and Google Earth, part 6

It’s not my idea to harp on about the more nationalistic elements in India and their problems with the revelatory powers of Google Earth. But wherever Times of India (ToI) goes, Ogle Earth will follow.

In their most recent article on Google Earth, they revisit a topic first raised on Google Groups a few weeks after Google Earth was released: Kashmir:

ToI: “Google’s googly: PoK is shown as part of Pakistan!”

One blogger, arZan, can’t get enough of this outrage (oh the exclamation marks!) and delivers the incriminating evidence as screenshots — on which you can see that Google Earth uses the Line of Control as the de facto border between India and Pakistan across Kashmir.

if you’re not going to show the contours of the disputed area, and don’t want too take sides between India and Pakistan, than this is indeed the most correct approach to take, as it depicts the situation on the ground. If disputed areas are to be shown, then the entire Kasmir entity should drawn separately, both on Pakistan and India’s side. National Geographic does this, though it additionally marks the area as disputed. That might not sit well with ToI and the above blogger, but that’s how international maps of record tend to show it.

Google Earth’s borders feature turns on rudimentary yellow lines. It need not be thus forever. Perhaps a collaboration with National Geographic on this front could produce a borders layer with more nuanced context. Such a layer would also inure Google from further nationalist anklebiting — Google could then just argue that nobody bothered to complain about National Geographic’s maps, which are easily the ones with the most gravitas internationally. I’d be all in favor of outsourcing border decisions to that venerable institution, whose maps are the very model of evenhandedness.

And of course, ToI and the blogger in question are always free to make their own layers with borders, through which they can see themselves in control of as much territory as they wish.

3 thoughts on “India and Google Earth, part 6”

  1. What about the fact that Aksai Chin, which is a part of Kashmir that China controls is shown as a country of its own. Its not in China, its not in India. Can you explain that ?? Google earth surely can’t.

    And if National Geographic can take the pains to clearly show the area as disputed territory, why shouldnt google do it ??

  2. I agree, it’s inconsistent. And the solution is that the entirety of Kashmir be defined as a disputed area, with the LoC shown. I’d be fine with that. How about you?

  3. Yes that’s my point too.

    I dont have an issue with that. I would rather that they show it as disputed territory for both countries.

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