When children anywhere in the world are taught geography, they draw maps and learn the location of states, borders, cities and rivers.
Indian schoolchildren drawing a map of India will draw the Ganges perhaps with a blue squiggle; the capital New Delhi with a big black dot. And when they draw northern India, they will be taught to include all of Kashmir, a territory that India, Pakistan and even China claim parts of.
Indian schools will also avoid conveying the fact that large parts of supposedly “Indian” Kashmir are actually administered by Pakistan. Schoolchildren won’t learn that some people living in India-administered Kashmir seek independence from India, or even advocate joining the territory with Pakistan.
Many Indians learn about this geopolitical debacle for the first time as adults after reading about it in foreign publications or seeing maps produced abroad. In India, distributing maps that do not depict the official version of geography can result in criminal prosecution.
The modern geopolitics that influence the region date back to the British Empire in India, and the “princely state” of Jammu and Kashmir that was dissolved following the partition of India in 1947.
In Pakistan, the Kashmir issue is equally touchy. On official maps, Jammu and Kashmir is included as the territory of Pakistan. However, contrary to the Indian maps, Pakistani maps indicate the ambiguous status of border areas with terms like “disputed territory” and “frontier undefined” printed on maps.