Border Management

You are here

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Niras asked: It was recently stated that India-Myanmar border trade would be upgraded to normal trade. What is the difference?

    Udai Bhanu Singh replies: Trade on the Indo-Myanmar border was traditionally conducted on an informal basis and was quite negligible compared to the normal trade. Trading in traditional goods on head load basis and through barter was the usual practice. A legal basis was accorded to the customary trade when India and Myanmar signed a border trade agreement in 1994. Land Customs Station (LCS) at Moreh was the first trading-point to be operationalised on the Indo-Myanmar border in 1995. The second one is the Zowkhathar-Rhi LCS. A third LCS is expected to be opened up at Avakhung-Pansat/Somrai.

    Border trade constitutes only a fraction of the bilateral trade. Enhanced border trade is considered as critical for the development of India’s North-eastern Region (NER). India has a long land border (over 1600 km) with Myanmar, but the border trade remains minimal. In 2010-11, the border trade was only $12.8 million whereas the bilateral trade was $1070 million. Indian exports included cotton yarn, auto parts, soya bean meal and pharmaceuticals while India’s imports included betel nuts, dried ginger, green moong beans, turmeric roots, resin and medicinal herbs. Currently, on the India-Myanmar border, trade at a concessional rate of duty (5 per cent ad valorem) and in certain conditions is permitted for 62 tradable items (effective since December 2012 following DGFT notification) through the LCSs at Moreh (Manipur) and Zowkhathar (Mizoram) as per the Department of Commerce notifications.

    The problem lies in the smuggling of items like fertilizers, vehicles especially two wheelers, etc. This illegal transaction on the border gives border trade a bad name while bringing little or no benefit to the communities living on either sides of the border. In addition, the NER is landlocked, and despite its vast natural and human resource, the people of the region cannot have a share in the maritime trade. To the extent the increase in maritime trade does not stimulate the economic growth in the NER (and ignores and even breaks traditional trade links), it perpetuates the perception that the benefits of the ‘Look East Policy’ is bypassing the NER as 98 per cent of the trade is conducted through ports. Thus, promotion of ‘cross border growth poles’ or ‘growth triangles’ is suggested, besides systematic sociological, anthropological and political analyses of the systems in the two countries.

    Normal trade is also permitted through the LCSs. The 3rd India-Myanmar Joint Trade Committee (2008) decided that border trade would be upgraded to normal trade, which refers to the trade between two countries that is subject to payment of custom duties applicable on international trade with any other country of the world. According to the Northeast Vision 2020, “opening up trade routes will expand economic opportunities for the region and accelerate its growth process.” There is great potential in the revival of international commerce through road, river (Kaladan) and railways; and, connecting to Chittagong and Kolkata besides Sittwe (to Dawei and beyond in Indochina). It can boost the economy of the north eastern states which could bring back some of the glory of yesteryears when the land-based silk route flourished. Among the 13 Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) being set up in NER, one is at Moreh in Manipur. The objective of ICP is to provide integrated infrastructure (including immigration, customs, and border security with support facilities like warehousing, banking and hotels) and to interdict elements hostile to the country in order to facilitate legitimate trade and commerce.

    For more details, refer to the following IDSA publication:

    Udai Bhanu Singh and Shruti Pandalai, “Myanmar: The Need for Infrastructure Integration” in Rumel Dahiya and Ashok K. Behuria (eds.), India’s Neighbourhood: Challenges in the Next two Decades, Pentagon Security International, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 110-136.

    Cooperation is the key to manage the India-Bangladesh Border

    That cooperation between neighbours can pave the way for resolving issues relating to the management of shared borders is amply demonstrated by the outcomes of various bilateral interactions that took place between India and Bangladesh in recent months.

    October 12, 2012

    Securing Central Asian Frontiers: Institutionalisation of Borders and Inter-state Relations

    This article develops the message that the artificially introduced administrative borders during the Soviet era, which were subject to the processes of re-delimitation after 1991, whether for reasons of security, administration, mutual distrust or the population's ethnic attachment, have become results and means of political manipulation and pressurisation. This has resulted in further pushing regional states to follow mutually exclusive policies.

    July 2012

    Strategic Road-Building along the India-China border

    Given the urgent need to build strategic roads along the India-China border, the Ministry of Home has sanctioned Rs.1,934 crore for strategic road projects of about 804 kms.

    June 07, 2012

    Drug Trafficking in India: A Case for Border Security

    Drug Trafficking in India: A Case for Border Security

    Trafficking of drugs takes place overwhelmingly through land borders followed by sea and air routes. Given the vulnerability of the borders to drug trafficking, India has tried to tackle the problem through the strategy of drug supply and demand reduction, which involves enacting laws, co-operating with voluntary organisations, securing its borders and coasts by increasing surveillance, as well as seeking the active cooperation of its neighbours and the international community.

    Turan Nishant: What kind of security threats does a radicalised south Punjab in Pakistan poses to the border states of India?

    P.K. Upadhyay replies: Rising religious radicalism in Pakistan is a cause for major concern to India. For one it is not a phenomenon with purely internal security and stability implications for Pakistan. It is trans-national in its approach and character, and seeks to reach out to the Muslim communities and societies outside Pakistan as well. This could adversely affect sections of the Indian Muslims. It could accentuate sectarian differences among the Indian Muslims, destroy notions of religious pluralism and could make various sects more orthodox, doctrinaire and militant in pursuit of their wish to impose their interpretation of the faith. India's bordering areas, especially those across south Punjab of Pakistan, which cannot be totally insulated given the dictates of geography, would be the first recipients of this virus, adding to India's already considerable headache in managing border areas.

    Besides, increasing sectarian tensions and growing radicalisation could weaken the state apparatuses and even cause a breakdown in the law and order situation in Pakistan. This could make many people leave their home and hearths and seek refuge in India. How will India deal with that situation? Would it allow them easy entry into the country's bordering areas in Indian Punjab and Rajasthan with its concomitant security and social implications, or would it stop them in the no-man's land and force them to live in appalling conditions and face international opprobrium for that? It is about time that the government does its homework and be ready with possible solutions.

    Hans Raj Singh asked: What are the major problems on the Indo-Nepal border and how they can be resolved?

    Nihar Nayak replies: India-Nepal border is unique. It is an open and the most peaceful border in Asia. The present arrangement supports the sustenance of livelihood and cultural linkages of millions of people in the region. However, this asset is turning into a liability due to extra-regional countries’ design to destabilise the relationship between India and Nepal. One country is consistently instigating certain sections in Nepal by saying that open border has been responsible for the underdevelopment in Nepal. Therefore, it should be closed. Its design is to close the border to check the inflow of ‘anti-national elements’ from India. Another country takes advantage of the open border and wants to destabilise India by using the Nepal territory. For example, terrorist outfits like LeT, Indian Mujahideen and some insurgent groups from North Eastern part of India have been using the open border to provide logistical support (supply of trained cadres, fake Indian currency, and terror finance by using Nepalese banks, dispersal of small arms and explosives and narcotics) to their clandestine operations in India.

    Apart from that, there are frequent reports of misuse of open border by local criminal gangs, smuggling of subsidised consumer goods and allegations of encroachment of territory. People living in the border region of both the countries are involved in these activities.


    Since 98 per cent of the border is demarcated by the joint survey, both the countries should resolve the border disputes by singing on the survey report. That will avoid border encroachment disputes.

    Second, since both the countries are affected due to the misuse of open border by internal and external forces, the responsibility of border management and regulation depends on both. Although India has taken certain measures, like deployment of additional SSB personnel (presently 45,000, Nepal only 4,500), construction of integrated border check posts and capacity building programmes for the SSB, similar responses are required from Nepal.

    Last but not the least, meetings pertaining to joint border management mechanism should be organised regularly for effective border management, coordination, and to avoid any kind of misunderstanding between both the countries.

    Managing India's Land Borders: Lessons from the US Experience

    India has been grappling with the problem of devising an efficient border management strategy that would prevent the entry of dangerous elements while at the same time allowing the legitimate flow of goods, services and people. Given that it has always been vulnerable to cross-border threats and challenges such as illegal migration, drug and human trafficking, gunrunning, smuggling of commodities and cross-border terrorism, India has taken a largely unilateral approach towards border management whereby security of the borders is accorded primacy over the free movement of people and goods.

    January 2012

    Check the Downslide in India-Bangladesh Relations

    India should implement its agreements with Bangladesh in a time bound manner, fast track trans-border infrastructural developmental schemes and address the interests of the common people of Bangladesh.

    January 04, 2012

    India’s Internal Security: The Year That Was, The Year That May Be

    India’s internal security situation in 2011 was relatively better than in previous years. To ensure that 2012 also turns out to be a quiet and secure year, New Delhi not only has to consolidate the gains made in 2011 but also undertake new initiatives to address these gaps.

    December 13, 2011