The censorship of foreign magazines and newspapers depicting the “wrong” map of India is as old as the hills and barely makes news. Certainly, no Indian newspaper finds it worth its while to stand up for the “erring” firang.
But the Indian Express, which is in a content sharing partnership with The Economist and prints a “co-branded” page of material from the London-based “newspaper” every weekday, has come out forcefully against the censorship of, well, The Economist.
The May 19 issue of the Economist (cover story: The World’s Most Dangerous Border“) came plastered with a white sticker to mask a Kashmir map, which showed it not as one composite whole (as Indian publications do), but as a piece of real estate divided between India, Pakistan and China, as is the reality.
Express responded, first with an editorial and then with a front-page editorial cartoon (above).
“International news publications are often delayed because a special Customs cell has to stamp each such map with the disclaimer that these are “neither accurate nor authentic”.
“Though The Economist has explained that using the Line of Control in the absence of an agreed international frontier is merely to state the status quo, not endorse it, the government will have none of it.
“Despite the fact that the technology has rendered such strictures irrelevant, the Indian state remains inordinately panicky about how its boundaries are represented”
The Economist‘s cartographers are, however, not unused to seeing their work being censored. Last year, it printed a chart showing India at the very top of its censorship table.
“Since January 2009 The Economist has been banned or censored in 12 of the 190-odd countries in which it is sold, with news-stand (as opposed to subscription) copies particularly at risk. India has censored 31 issues and at first glance might look like the worst culprit. However its censorship consists of stamping “Illegal” on maps of Kashmir because it disputes the borders shown.”
Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express
Legally, if you don’t complain when someone uses your registered trademarks without your permission, you will lose your rights to it eventually.
The ‘map censorship’ issue is something similar. If the government of India (or China or Pakistan) doesn’t make an issue of how its territory is depicted, other countries will perceive that you don’t really care about the issue. Any action (small or big) adds congruence to your words, which really helps in diplomacy.
Well said, Sam !