No Drones Please, We’re India

India’s war on drones.

My plans for aerial photography in Goa this monsoon season have been shot down by the Indian government.

A new directive, issued by the Indian Finance Minister and noted aeronautics expert, Shri Arun Jaitley, went into effect from April 1. It puts drones in the Prohibited and Dutiable Goods list and requires you to declare them upon arrival. There is no clarity on the matter, and virtually no additional information is available on the official websites. I called the Indian Customs in Bombay and was told that any drone brought in will be impounded for “security reasons.” “National security” has now become a catch-all phrase, a tool for the tyrannical Indian government to harass people. No doubt the Brhaspati-in-Residence and knower of all things in the observable universe, Shri Manoharwa Parrikar, is right on the job, protecting Bharat Mata from the nefarious drones.

The Wright Brothers wouldn’t have amounted to much in India where the foundational principle is, “How can we stop you getting from Point A to Point B?” Drones are still sold online in India (how do they get through?), but even if you could get hold of one, it is near impossible to get it off the ground.

To be sure, drones need to be regulated. They aren’t toys and in the hands of the reckless they can present a serious threat to public safety as well as to sensitive civilian and military installations. But there is a thoughtful approach to addressing these concerns and then there’s the Indian way.

Here in the USA, registration with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is required, a simple matter of spending 3 mins on a website. The FAA’s mobile app helps determine if any nearby airport needs to be alerted before a flight. Additional guidelines are set to be in place soon.

For now, my DJI Phantom 4‘s rotors won’t be subjected to the humid Goan air.

DJI Phantom 4 Drone

Grounded – DJI Phantom 4
iPhone 6s

  • Vaibhav Gandhi - January 12, 2017 - 12:26 pm

    That’s a nice case! Where did you get it from? I am looking for one for my P4. ThanksReplyCancel

  • Stu - October 5, 2016 - 6:35 pm

    This is such a shame as I was really looking forward to being able to show off the beauty of the country from another angle when I visit in November 🙁ReplyCancel

  • Arun - August 13, 2016 - 8:49 am

    So the policy, as described here, has not been enacted?ReplyCancel

    • Rajan Parrikar - August 13, 2016 - 10:17 am

      The status of DGCA’s draft policy is unclear. I called DGCA and Customs officials in Bombay and Delhi, and kept getting bounced around. Calls to the Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing (WPC) likewise were futile.ReplyCancel

  • Börkur Hrólfsson - August 10, 2016 - 4:57 pm

    Bring it up here, little restrictions. And I´ll “keep” it for you 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Rajan Parrikar - August 10, 2016 - 10:08 pm
      • Anika Morjaria - January 19, 2017 - 2:00 pm

        Hello! just wondering if you had any updates? I have the DJI mavic and am due to fly to Goa tomorrow via Mumbai. Was really looking forward to filming there but im now looking at the rules+reg and seems like itll be an issue. Any help/advice appreciated thatnks!ReplyCancel

        • Rajan Parrikar - January 28, 2017 - 1:52 am

          Don’t take it. It will most likely be impounded by the Customs at the airport.

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