India’s Approach to Border Management: From Barriers to Bridges

DR. Pushpita Das

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This book attempts to provide a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances which have shaped India’s approach towards its international borders and the framework it has developed to better manage its borders. The book argues that persistence of various cross-border threats and challenges and an absence of robust intra-regional trade among its neighbouring countries forced India to employ a security-centric and unilateral approach to border management with emphasis on hardening the borders to cross-border trade and travel and keeping the border areas underdeveloped to act as a buffer against external conventional threats. However, as India’s economy grew and the country gained more confidence and resources, India started perceiving the borders as bridges rather than barriers. Consequently, greater emphasis was being laid on development of border areas and restoring severed lines of communication with its neighbours through increased investments in building transportation networks both within the border as well as beyond. It also started constructively engaging its neighbours to effectively manage its international borders. Besides discussing the threats and challenges that India faces along the borders, the book aims to develop an understanding of India’s border management practices by analysing various programmes and initiatives such as the raising of border guarding forces; building of physical and electronic fences; the establishment of modern facilities for smoothening legitimate cross-border travel; the development of the border areas through special programmes; and increasing trade and connectivity as well as other cooperative bilateral mechanisms.

DR. Pushpita Das is Research Fellow and Coordinator of the Internal Security Centre at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA), New Delhi. Her areas of research include border security and management, coastal security, drug trafficking, migration, and India’s Northeast. At MP-IDSA she has been studying India’s approach towards the management of its international borders. She has been co-opted as an expert by the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on projects on Coastal Security. Dr. Das has written extensively on her areas of research including: monographs titled Illegal Migration from Bangladesh: Deportation, Fences, Work Permit (2016) and Coastal Security: the Indian Approach (2013); and a number of articles and commentaries in journals and books. Dr. Pushpita Das holds a Doctorate from the Jawaharlal Nehru University.


List of Tables and Maps



1. Security Threats to India’s Borders
2. Guarding the Borders
3. Border Infrastructure: Fences and Equipment
4. Strategic Roads and Railways in the Border Areas
5. Regulating India’s Borders: Cross Border Movement
6. Integrated Check Posts and Land Customs Stations
7. Border Area Development Programme
8. Connectivity in Border Areas: A Case of the Northeast
9. Cross-border Connectivity
10. Border Trade
11. Bilateral Institutional Mechanisms
The Next Steps



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