More and more countries are fencing off their borders in an attempt to curb illegal immigration and smuggling. In this episode, we talk about how India has fenced off almost its entire border with Bangladesh – one of the longest borders in the world. Why does India feel that it needs a fence? How does it impact the people living along the border, and what will the threat of climate change mean for the future? Is the fence even effective? Join us as we explore these questions and more!
Purpose and Side Effects
India is constructing a more than 4000-kilometer-long fence to seal the India-Bangladesh border — the fifth-longest land border in the world — with the publicly stated purpose of stopping trafficking of weapons, humans and cattle. Although fencing can bring India some benefits, it incurs humanitarian costs. Surrounded by India on three sides and situated on the Ganges Delta where the Ganges and many distributaries flowing into the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is a flood-afflicted country. Annual flooding drives coastal Bangladeshis to higher land, including India. Now the fence stands in their way. Moreover, cattle herders in the border area that had for centuries freely moved their herds for fresh pasture can no longer continue their traditional lifestyle. Finally, the alleged “shoot-to-kill policy” of India border guards makes the fence even more dangerous.
Ineffective and Costly
The Modi administration expanded the India-Bangladesh border project, with 75% already fenced off. This is a largely ineffective and costly way to deal with the border issue.
A step in the right direction is a historic agreement signed between India and Bangladesh inked in 2015 that simplifies the border by exchanging more than 150 enclaves.
Severe Test Ahead
Rising sea levels, severe storms, and other extreme climate-related events threaten future border control between India and Bangladesh, as the latter is set to suffer more from climate change. By 2050, a large chunk of the country’s current densely populated dryland could be permanently underwater, and an estimated 17 to 18 million Bangladeshis will be displaced. This will be an overwhelming challenge for Bangladesh, a country characterized by weak governance.
Take a look at some of our favorite articles that we came acrotss while researching the border fence:
- BBC News: Enclaves swapped in landmark India-Bangladesh border deal
- Foreign Policy: The World’s Most Dangerous Borders
- The Hindu: Land acquisition, protests delay border fencing