All posts by Thejesh GN

Demonetisation with Srinivasan Ramani

Srinivasan Ramani is Deputy National Editor who works with data at The Hindu. He has been a long time member of DataMeet community. This week I caught up with him to talk about Demonetisation move by Government of India.

Show Notes


Happy Independence Day and Open Indian Village Boundaries

One of the longest and most passionately discussed subject on the Data{Meet} list is the availability of Indian Village Boundaries in Digital format. Search for Indian Village shape files and you can spend hours on reading interesting conversations.

Over last two years different members of community have tried to digitize the maps available through various government platforms or shared the maps through their organizations.

A look at the list discussion tells you that boundaries of at the least 75% of the states are available in various formats and quality. What we need at this point is a consolidate effort to bring them all on par in format, attributes and to some level quality. So some volunteers at Data{Meet} agreed to come together, clean up the available maps, add attributes, make them geojson and publish them on our GitHub repository called Indian Village Boundaries.

Of course this will be an on going effort but we would love to reach a baseline (all states) by year end. As of now I have cleaned up and uploaded Gujarat. I have at the least 4 more states to go live by month end. Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa. I will announce them on the list as they go live.

The boundaries are organized by state using state ISO code. All the village boundaries are available in geojson (WGS84, EPSG4326) format. The project page gives you the status of the data as we clean and upload. Data is not perfect yet, there could many errors both in data and boundaries. You can contribute by sending the pull requests. Please use the census names when correcting the attributes and geojson for shapes. Please source them to an official source when sending corrections.

Like everything else community creates. All map data will be available under Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL). This data is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. If you find issues we are more than happy to accept corrections but please source them to an official source.

On this 70th Independence day, as we celebrate the historic event of India becoming Free and Independent, Data{Meet} community celebrates by cleaning, formatting and digitizing our village boundaries. Have a great time using the maps and contributing back to society.

Picture: Kedarnath range behind the Kedarnath temple early morning. By Kaustabh, Available under CCBYSA.

They want to take away maps they never gave us

For anyone familiar with DataMeet, a community of data enthusiasts1, you would be aware that the discussion can be rather stilted. Even though the list is dedicated to all types of data, geospatial data seems to be the main topic. There are over 700 topics related to geospatial data, out of 1600. That is nearly half of the conversation. People who ask come from all kinds of backgrounds, researchers, journalists, data analysts, startups, students and mapping professionals.

As the Indian tech economy grew over the last five years we saw an increase in membership and in asks for geospatial data, in downloads of the open shapefile data we have and a lack of understanding of the geospatial policy in India. Why is it so hard to find maps here? People were asking for data and asking why it wasn’t available, wanting better and more accurate data than the scraps that were available online for free or even what was being sold.

With the SaveTheMap campaign in full swing we wanted to look at the background of mapping in India and why in the future embracing openness of geospatial data is the best solution.

We got a chance to talk to members of Karnataka Philatelic Society about OpenPostBox. They are very interesting set of people. They have also started sending me the postbox pictures using WhatsApp along with location. Now I need to find an efficient way to extract them and insert into my database.

As of now I am thinking of Export -> Parse -> Insert. Working on it. If you have any ideas do email me.


Details of the meet are on my personal blog if you like to read.

Five Years of DataMeet Discussions

We consider 26/01/2011 as DataMeet birthday. Thats the day we talked about starting DataMeet and hence it is the birthday. But the first email to the group was sent by S.Anand on 27/01/2011. Its been five years since that first email. I took this opportunity to scrape the email list to see how we are doing and what we talked about in last five years.



Members have started 1525 and have sent in total 4570 emails. But most important is how many participate.

Category Members
No Emails 855
1 Emails 184
2 Emails 75
3 Emails 43
More than 3 189


Go have a look at full view of the traffic graph. Except for few peaks the group has been fairly consistent.


We have discussed about 1525 in last five years. Here is the list of top 20 starters.

author total topics started
Nisha Thompson 199
Thejesh GN 164
sumandro 71
Sridhar Gutam 64
srinivas kodali 36
Gautam John 30
Sajjad Anwar 28
Pranesh Prakash 27
bawaza… 27
Venkatraman.S. 23
satyaakam 22
S Anand 21
Balaji Subbaraman 20
Nikhil VJ 19
Justin Meyers 15
Sanky 15
Dilip Damle 14
Maya Indira Ganesh 13
Shree 13

First Responders

The first responders are important when someone posts a question. They are the first ones to respond to the questions. As you would have guessed the list is different from the starters list.

author number first response
Devdatta Tengshe 36
Gautam John 36
Nisha Thompson 57
srinivas kodali 28
Thejesh GN 27
Sajjad Anwar 21
satyaakam 20
Arun Ganesh 16
Avinash Celestine 15
Venkatraman.S. 15
Anand Chitipothu 14
sumandro 13
Dilip Damle 10
JohnsonC 10
S Anand 10
Gora Mohanty 9
Meera K 9
Sabarish Karunakar 9
Nikhil VJ 8

Part of many discussions

These are the members who have participated the most.

author total_emails_sent
Nisha Thompson 397
Thejesh GN 297
Gautam John 158
srinivas kodali 128
sumandro 109
Sajjad Anwar 93
Arun Ganesh 88
Dilip Damle 88
Devdatta Tengshe 85
satyaakam 83
Sridhar Gutam 81
Avinash Celestine 73
Justin Meyers 71
S Anand 68
Pranesh Prakash 67
Venkatraman.S. 64
Nikhil VJ 55
Raphael Susewind 55
Anand Chitipothu 51


We have discussed many many topics over years. But there are some popular topics. I have the list of topics by most replies.

Starter date/time topic
Karthik Shashidhar 2015-05-04 23:00:01 Shapefiles for "complete" India
megha 2014-04-10 14:10:21 MP/MLA Shapes
Srihari Srinivasan 2013-03-06 22:59:44 List of BMTC Bus stops
Nisha Thompson 2014-05-20 23:51:49 Logo Contest Voting!
S Anand 2016-02-01 18:31:38 PIN code geocoding
Siddarth Raman 2014-04-17 16:16:29 Parliamentary Constituency to Assembly Constituency to Ward linkages
Nisha 2013-04-15 09:44:21 April's Bangalore DataMeet
Gautam John 2012-04-14 09:49:50 I Change My City
Arun Ganesh 2011-03-14 11:23:25 Licensing crowdourced data projects
Sharad Lele 2015-11-27 19:59:49 Census of India seems to have maps of everything!

We also get quite a bit of traffic through search engines. So here is the list of top topics by views.

username date_time views topic
Karthik Shashidhar 2015-05-04 23:00:01 12324 Shapefiles for "complete" India
S Anand 2016-02-01 18:31:38 4783 PIN code geocoding
srinivas kodali 2013-07-01 12:49:33 2291 GeoJson data of Indian states
Aashish Gupta 2014-02-24 10:23:12 763 1981 and 1991 district-wise census data
Justin Meyers 2014-07-26 22:05:13 668 Updated Taluk Shapefile!!
indro ray 2013-08-13 10:21:18 651 MCD Delhi Admin Boundary GIS map
My profile photo 2012-08-30 17:41:45 615 Bangalore – BBMP ward boundaries – shape files available now
megha 2014-04-10 14:10:21 556 MP/MLA Shapes
Kavita Arora 2012-09-13 23:32:25 546 Ward Wise data for Bangalore – 2011 census?
Renaud Misslin 2014-12-03 09:45:16 426 Delhi ward shapefile for census 2011 data

At last customary wordcloud of topics.


Of course all the scrapers and data is available on github. Go ahead make your own visualizations.

Map of Electoral districts of Sri Lanka

SriLankan maps for Electoral districts are available for download now. I initially made this for a friend who wanted to analyze the election results. The Electoral districts are derived from the administrative maps.


You can check the diff on github to see how the maps were changed.

GADM database of Global Administrative Areas is the source of administrative data. I used three simple online tools

  • for converting from KML to GeoJSON and adding attributes.
  • MapShaper for merging the areas
  • GitHub for storing the map files.

Note: I don’t provide any guarantee on the accuracy of the maps. So don’t use if you want accurate maps. I have made notes on how these maps were derived. Use it if you think the process is right. Raise an issue if you find anything.

Nobel prize Winner Angus Deaton on the importance Open Data in India

On Data{Meet} we have been talking about the importance of Open Data and quality of it. This year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics Angus Deaton has similar point of view on the quality of open data. Whole article is worth reading, I am quoting a paragraph.

My work shows how important it is that independent researchers should have access to data, so that government statistics can be checked, and so that the democratic debate within India can be informed by the different interpretations of different scholars. High quality, open, transparent, and uncensored data are needed to support democracy.

I have used data from India’s famous National Sample Surveys to measure poverty. Perhaps the biggest threat to these measures is that there is an enormous discrepancy between the National Accounts Statistics and the surveys. The surveys “find” less consumption than do the national accounts, whose measures also grow more rapidly. While I am sure that part of the problem lies with the surveys—as more people spend more on a wider variety of things, the total is harder to capture—but there are weaknesses on the NAS side too, and I have been distressed over the years that critics of the surveys have got a lot more attention than critics of the growth measures. Perhaps no one wants to risk a change that will diminish India’s spectacular (at least as measured) rate of growth?

Source: TheWire
Picture credit: Nobel Prize