Digital India Initiatives

In news: Survey of India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Survey of India

Mains level: Not Much


The Survey of India (SOI), India’s 250-year-old map maker, will no longer have a monopoly on making high-resolution maps. SOI will however remain the arbiter of maps that deal with State borders and national boundaries.

Key announcements by SOI

  • Focus on map accuracy: The SoI will now take action against digital platforms that violate its guidelines and will develop a framework to ensure the accuracy of maps.
  • Regulating use by digital platforms: The SoI has also asked digital platforms to comply with its guidelines and to seek its permission before publishing maps of the country.
  • Ensure territorial integrity: The move is aimed at ensuring that the country’s borders and territorial integrity are accurately depicted in maps, and that sensitive locations are not compromised by the publication of maps that violate the country’s security interests.

In a nutshell: The Survey of India (SOI) will now be more like a regulatory body.

What is Survey of India?

  • The SOI is India’s central engineering agency in charge of mapping and surveying.
  • First modern scientific survey of India” was undertaken by W. Mather in 1793–96 on instructions of Superintendent of Salem and Baramahal (TN), Col. Alexander Read.
  • Set up in 1767 to help consolidate the territories of the British East India Company, it is one of the oldest Engineering Departments of the GoI.
  • Its members are from Survey of India Service cadre of Civil Services of India and Army Officers from the Indian Army Corps of Engineers.
  • It is headed by the Surveyor General of India.


  • Advisor to Govt: Survey of India acts as adviser to the Government of India on all cartography of India related matters, such as geodesy, mapping and map reproduction.
  • Geo names: It is responsible for the naming convention and spellings of names of geographical features of India.
  • Certification and publication: Scrutiny and certification of external boundaries of India and Coastline on maps published by other agencies including private publishers.
  • Surveys: geodetic datum, geodetic control network, topographical control, geophysical surveys, cadastral surveying, geologic maps, aeronautical charts within India, such as for forests, army cantonments, large scale cities, guide maps, developmental or conservation projects, etc.
  • National borders: Demarcation of the borders and external boundaries of India as well as advice on the demarcation of inter-state boundaries.


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