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India-Bangladesh border Management

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Bangladesh shares land boundaries with two countries; one in India and another in Myanmar. In 4289km land boundary of Bangladesh, Bangladesh shares only 193 km with Myanmar; another 4096 km boundary is shared with India. It is one of the longest borders between the two countries. It is the 3rd longest border between two countries. The longest border between the two countries is between Kazakhstan and Russia; it is 6846km. On the other hand the border between the United States and Canada is 8893km. So it is clear that border between Bangladesh and India is a very long border. Bangladesh shares borders with five states of India. Including these five states Indian state West Bengal shares half of the total border. Bangladesh and West Bengal share a 2217km border.

The boundary between Bangladesh and West Bengal is not a natural boundary. All are manmade boundaries. In some places, the boundary line divided a house into two parts. One part is in India and another part is in Bangladesh. The people of both sides of the border are of the same language, culture and they look alike. Besides that, the border with Bangladesh and Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya are also the same; all the borders are manmade and most of the people belong to the same language and culture. They also look alike. That is why; it is true that the management of this type of border is not easy.

Before finding out a way of good border management, two countries have to find out what are the obstacles. If we analyze the history of relations between the two countries we can see that they never maintained a steady relationship. The relation between India and Bangladesh is always ups and downs relation. Political power in India has changed among three in the last three decades; the Indian National Congress or Congress-led coalition government, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led coalition Government and Congress supported the left government. Congress supported the left government was a short-term government. But their foreign policy was towards liberal. Then it was branded as Gujral doctrine. BJP lead coalition government’s foreign policy is too aggressive towards neighbors. Congress or Congress-led government maintained a flexible foreign policy. Political power in Bangladesh has changed among the Awami league, military, and Bangladesh National Party (BNP) lead coalition. But according to data India is only comfortable with the Awami League. During the rule of Awami league India does a major treaty with Bangladesh; like trade agreement between Bangladesh- India 1972,1973, Bangladesh- India border agreement 1974, Bangladesh- India water-sharing treaty 1996. On the other hand, during the military and BNP lead era only minor protocols or agreements are signed. Now the question is why India is comfortable with the Awami League. According to Indian writers and researchers, except Awami league all have helped insurgent groups of Indian North-Eastern states. They say that Begum Khaleda Zia describes the insurgent in the North East as a freedom fighter, and so Bangladesh should help them. They also say that, Begum Zia’s previous term has made a strong nexus between her government intelligence agencies and the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan who was training insurgent groups operating in India’s North-Eastern states.

India should think realistically and from a socio-political and economic perspective; and not only in the military perspective. Making a fence, deployed more military or paramilitary with more weapons that are modern is not the ultimate solution. Because, it is not a war, it is management. Good management will never be harsh. However, the politicians, experts of border management can think details about the border management of Bangladesh and India. However, in general we can see that, three things are more important in Bangladesh- India border management. These three are common culture, common economy, and manmade border. Whereas it is a manmade border, so governments of Bangladesh and India have to think that, there is no way to pull out the people of two countries from their common socio-culture and economy. Therefore, two governments have to think about the common economy and common culture of the border people of two countries.

On the other hand, Bangladesh –India border is the third-longest border of the world. When two countries contain the longest border then, the economy of the two countries, also depends on each other. Canada and the United States, Mexico, and the United States, Kazakhstan, and Russia are examples of it. The longest border obviously will be the route of the economic flows. Therefore, Bangladesh and India have to develop infrastructure of the border area to connect with the border economy and the mainland economy. Such as, the two countries are always worried about illegal border trade and illegal migration. When we talked with any concerned Indian people, it seems that they are always afraid of illegal migration. They are scared about illegal migration. They are always fighting against it. But reality never says that; rather reality says they are fighting with a shadow. If we go through the reality, we can see, it is a manmade boundary, culture and language are common. People of both sides came from the same heritage. So, you cannot stop the mobility of them, it is their natural, social, and economic mobility. You cannot stop it. Therefore, you have to legalize it through a system that people can move easily and you have to ensure that it will be the mobility of the people not migration.

On the other hand, two countries are always doing illegal trade; such as, the biggest item on the agenda is cattle smuggling. More than 1.7 million pieces of cattle are illegally imported into Bangladesh every year. There are about 100 cattle corridors. Why not these two countries make these corridors as a border hat; and why not they legalize the sale of cattle. If two countries legalize cattle trade through 100 border hat then it will solve more than 99 percent of border incident or death. Most of the death cause in the border area due to cattle smuggling.

Besides that, in border management of two countries both countries have to uphold the political authority not the military authority. Both countries have to engage their people representatives to manage the border and have to think about common culture; because you can give up everything but you cannot give up your culture. People always uphold their culture. A fence may be a New Berlin wall but it never is a solution of border management.

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India-Bangladesh border Management

By: Swadesh Roy Read time: 5 min