Chinese Propaganda of Distorted Indian Maps- Lenova one step ahead of Google

published on November 16, 2009

I-T dept comps show Aksai Chin in China

MUMBAI: India’s ties with China may have been affected by border disputes, but Beijing is not helping matters by pushing its agenda blatantly. The latest jolt to bilateral bonhomie comes in the form of a distorted map installed as a wallpaper in the laptops supplied to the Income Tax department by the China-headquartered Lenovo. In four world maps, Aksai Chin is shown as part of China while PoK is depicted as being in Pakistan.

Around 10,000 laptops were supplied by Lenovo to I-T offices across the country early this year after it won a competitive bid. The entire process was routed through the office of the director of income tax (systems) in Delhi. While most officers failed to notice the wrong depiction in the map, the few that took up the matter with their higher-ups went unanswered.

The company said that the laptops were made in its Puducherry unit and the software came from the US. In an e-mail, Lenovo said that the map depicts global time zones and not geographical or political boundaries. It also said that they were in the process of removing the wall papers considering the sensitivity involved.

India and China have not resolved a dispute over several areas of their border, notably the section demarcating a barren plateau in Ladakh—most of which was called Aksai Chin. New Delhi has all along maintained that this area—which China claims falls in the Chinese province of Xinjiang in the west—is the easternmost part of Jammu & Kashmir.

Similarly, Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK), which India refers to as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), is also a disputed territory claimed by India but controlled by Pakistan. The territories border the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the east and Pakistan to the west.

While IPS officer turned lawyer Y P Singh said that there was no specific law at present under the Indian Penal Code to deal with such offences, customs officials said that under the Customs Act they are empowered to seize the laptops if the software has been imported. “It is like bringing in a prohibited item. We are gathering details. The income tax department should also have been more alert,” a senior official said.

The company said that time zones in the wallpaper adhere to conventionally accepted and commonly found time zone borders and they correspond to the time zone markings at the bottom of the map. “India falls under a single time zone and so this explanation is not plausible,” a police officer said.

According to the company, it held a service camp in April at various income tax offices where time zone wallpapers were replaced with other conventional wallpapers. The company said it would replace the wall papers if there are more in circulation. A senior income tax official contested the claims and said, “We are not aware of such camps. In Mumbai at least the company has not approached us.”

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