India–Bangladesh Land Border: A Flawed Inheritance and a Problematic Future

Smruti S. Pattanaik is Research Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • September 2011

    India shares 4095 kilometres of land and river boundaries with Bangladesh. The border is porous, criss-crossed by rivers and hilly and mountainous terrain which has made the guarding of this border extremely difficult. Border is a political construction. People living in the villages adjacent to the border do not subscribe to any concept of nationality or recognise the boundaries of the nation state. For the people living in the ‘borderlands’, a non-existent line bars them from leading the natural existence they have led for centuries. In spite of the barriers their daily life takes them across the border to earn a living, whether as hired labourers or rickshaw pullers or accessing the medical facilities available across the border. The temperature of political relations between the two countries has an impact on the ‘borderland’ – which, however, has its own dynamic dictated by the security compulsions, border economics and activities that are intrinsic to the livelihood of the people living near the border.