'Arunachal is in India and in China too'
Where is Arunachal Pradesh? Google is certain that it is in India and is also equally firm it is in China. And for good measure the world's most-used search engine describes it as a disputed terriroty as well.
The option thrown up among these three depends where on earth you are googling from.
If you’re in India, Arunachal Pradesh is a part of India and if you punch in your question on the search engine from a location in China, then Arunachal Pradesh is shown part of that country. And if you are anywhere else in the world trying to locate Arunachal Pradesh on Google, then it is displayed as a ‘disputed’ territory.
Google provides a map service of the Earth, based on satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D images of cities.
A search for Arunachal Pradesh on Google Map throws up a variety of links, giving the North East provinces' exact latitude and longitude. The hilly province’s ownership, however, is an entirely different matter.
From Google international portal, Arunachal is marked with a dotted line, depicting the area to be a disputed territory. Searching from Google’s Indian portal, it’s seen as an integral part of India.
A search from Google China, on the other hand, does not show the Sino-Indian border, with Arunachal seamlessly merged in.
In an official statement to the Hindustan Times, Google pointed out that it was “standard practice” to show disputed regions around the world on its global products like Google Maps.
“It has been our consistent and global policy to depict disputed regions as per the claims made by the disputing/claiming nations. This does not in any way endorse or affirm the position taken by any side but merely provides complete information on the prevailing geo-political situation to our users in a dispassionate and accurate manner,” the spokesperson said.
The statement further explained that with localised products like Google Maps India, there could be depictions of the country’s position “as per the mandate of their local laws.”
While this seemed like Google’s attempt at being politically correct, several blogs tracking global geopolitical situations have scathingly criticised the search engine’s policy of customising maps to suit nationalistic ends.
Arunachal Pradesh — 27.06 degrees North and 93.3 degrees East — is the eastern most state on the Indian map, with Myanmar to its east, Bhutan in northwest and bordering Tibet.
The province has been a sore point for both India and China, with the latter claiming the province as its own since 1962, when it captured a large portion of the North East.
The Chinese demanded Arunachal as its own, citing the Simla accord, signed between British India, China and Tibet in 1914, defining the official Sino-Indian border, McMahon Line.