You are here

Ayan Chakravarty asked: Why is it that after every top-level meet with neighbours, India presses for more people-to-people contact and more bus/ferry/rail services? More connectivity would entail more problems of regulation and also pose security challeng

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Pushpita Das replies: Growing contact between people of any two countries is a sign of friendly bilateral relations. When India suggests more people-to-people contact with its neighbours, it underlines the country’s desire to have friendly relations with its neighbours. This gesture should not be interpreted as an encouragement to people from the neighbouring countries to settle permanently or enter into India without valid documents. On the contrary, it gives an opportunity to the people of the neighbouring countries to visit India through proper channels, with valid visas and for stipulated periods of time.

    India and its neighbours have strong socio-cultural, ethnic and often matrimonial ties among its people. In addition, a large section of the population in neighbouring countries often does not have access to institutions of higher learning and super-speciality hospitals in their country. By permitting more people to visit India, the Indian government is providing an opportunity to the people from the neighbouring countries to visit their kith and kin, perform pilgrimages, avail benefits from its advanced educational and health facilities as well as understand the country’s diverse culture and way of life. Such gestures help India garner goodwill among its neighbours.

    Similarly, building cross border connectivity signifies building bridges with the neighbours and should not be construed as a security challenge. By constructing roads, railways and other means of connectivity, both India and its neighbours are providing additional officially designated access points to their people for travelling across borders. This rather reduces the cases of illegal entry as people can enter into India through legal channels without any hassle. As regards problems of regulation and security, these access (entry/exit) points have their own infrastructure for ensuring secure immigration. In fact, the central government has modernised most of these immigration points and installed state-of-the-art machines to detect forged documents. It has also implemented the Immigration, Visa and Foreigner’s Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) system to keep track of the foreign visitors.

    In today’s world, no country can afford to completely close its borders. People, goods and ideas always find ways to breach any barrier. The best alternative for countries, therefore, is to cultivate friendly relations with their neighbours and help them develop stakes in ensuring mutual security and well-being. More people-to-people contact and better cross border connectivity would also result in economic development of the border regions and contribute to the emotional well-being of the people in the region.

    Please also refer to Pushpita Das’s previous reply posted on June 15, 2015.

    Posted on July 06, 2015