Sreeradha Datta

distinguished Fellow, at Asian Confluence
Asian Confluence

Borders necessarily are a core and constitutive element of international order but with an element of inherent dynamism. International relations literature has thus given way to new approaches to understanding its evolving character, from one that is a purely geographic line to that of zone to a more encompassing interdisciplinary concept. While the basic understanding of borders is that of a barrier, the narrative surrounding borders are increasingly widening to include a functional space moving far beyond the physical territorial marker it provides for the modern nation states. This is also relevant in the South Asian context especially at the borders, India shares with Bangladesh and Myanmar. At specific points in the borders, cross border activities have been initiated which have been well received by the local residents on both sides. Much of the mobility that this region was used to received a setback with the partition and subsequent developments in the sub-continent. While the formal introduction of cross border activities at the borders have seen a gradual momentum, under the present positive bilateral trajectory that India shares with these two neighbours, it is possible to widen the scope of activities to provide for greater services which are evidently unavailable at these borders areas. The residents on both sides have similar life style and livelihood patterns and remain largely deprived from the benefits of mainland experiences. Cross border activities can be widened to go beyond the mono dimensional approach that has dominated the narrative for many years. The contemporary positive conditions on the ground provide a facilitating atmosphere for developing a mutually beneficial and cooperative experience through common education, health services and cultural activities. Enabling a sustained people to people connect would give way for greater understanding of each other and help address many of the gaps both at the bilateral and at the domestic levels. Briefly, the view of the borders needs a transformation. They can be a force multiplier in India’s larger foreign policy goals and in its specific vision for its neighbourhood.


PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India




Former director at Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute for Asian Studies