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International Relations

Why is the India Bangladesh Border the most complex border in the world?

Why is the India Bangladesh Border the most complex border in the world?


  • GS 2 || International Relations || India & its Neighbor || Bangladesh

Why in the news?

India played a great role in the emergence of independent Bangladesh. India was also the first state to recognize Bangladesh (along with Bhutan) as a separate nation.


  • The partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 resulted in the creation of two Pakistans, one on each side of the Indian subcontinent: West Pakistan and East Pakistan.
  • Following a conflict with West Pakistan, in which India joined the fray, supporting with its eastern neighbors, East Pakistan declared independence and formed Bangladesh in 1971.
  • (In 1947, West Pakistan was renamed Pakistan.) Ninety-eight percent of Bangladeshis are ethnic Bengalis, and the country is predominantly Muslim, with Hindus accounting for only 16 percent of the population.
  • Bangladesh and India share a border that runs over 3,000 miles, and India began fortifying the border in the late 1980s.

Problems in the Management of the India–Bangladesh Border:

  • The Terrain: Hilly and jungle paths, plains, riverbank, and low-lying area make up the topography along the boundary.
    • The boundary is particularly porous due to the wide mix of topographical factors. The dense foliage and steep gradient in the mountainous and forested tracks of north Bengal, south Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura make appropriate roads, fences, and Border Observation Posts (BOPs) difficult to build. Because of the absence of roads and the longer inter-BOP distances, border patrolling is challenging.
  • Illegal Migration: The simple and unlawful crossing of the border is one of the most serious effects of a porous border. Since India’s independence, the tendency of illegal migration from Bangladesh has continued.
    • Political upheavals, religious persecutions, population pressures, environmental catastrophes, and other causes have all played a role in the large-scale influx of Bangladeshis into India.
  • Insurgent Bases in Bangladesh: If the border’s porousness allows Bangladeshi migrants to readily walk into India, it also permits Indian militants to seek shelter in Bangladesh and other neighboring nations.
    • In the early 1990s, for example, after Myanmar’s military operations against Indian insurgent groups, Bangladesh became their favored destination.
  • Trans-Border Crime: The porous nature of the border, a lack of economic possibilities, poverty and underdevelopment, people’s attitudes about petty crime, a lack of vigilance, and a link between criminals, police, and border guarding personnel all contribute to the rise in trans-border crime.
    • Human and drug trafficking, counterfeit cash, kidnapping, and thefts are all common along the India–Bangladesh border.
  • The porous aspect of the border: A large inter-BOP gap in the face of a dense population living near the border allows unfettered movement of nationals from both nations, including criminals. This issue is exacerbated in riverine and jungle environments, where patrolling is difficult. Withdrawal of forces to perform other tasks (counter-insurgency operations, long-term electoral work) exacerbates the problem.

India and Bangladesh resolved the land boundary issue:

  • Illegal Immigration: Illegal immigration has been a source of contention between the two administrations for a long time. Around 20-30 million undocumented Bangladeshi immigrants live in Assam, West Bengal, and other parts of the country, posing a threat to natives. The issue of human trafficking and cross-border smuggling must be addressed.
  • Transit Rights: While India seeks transit rights through Bangladesh in order to develop its North Eastern region, Bangladesh sees such a request as an infringement on its sovereignty.
  • Security Concerns: Bangladesh has also provided a base for a huge number of terror organisations, particularly those involved in insurgencies in North East India. While the current administration has made significant progress in limiting the usage of its territory, more has to be done.
  • On the eastern border of Bangladesh, the Tipaimukh Hydro-Electric Power Project is located on the Barak River. Bangladesh has raised concerns about the project, and India has guaranteed Bangladesh that it will not proceed in its current shape. India also promised Bangladesh that no unilateral decision on the Himalayan component of their river-interlinking project will be made that would affect Bangladesh.

Suggestions for enhancing India-Bangladesh ties:

  • The Indo-Bangladesh border is a long one and heavily inhabited and the inhabitants have a common history of growth, culture, language and rich
  • On this border, the difficulty of border management is not simply about securing the borders, but also about doing so without jeopardizing the economic interests of the people, who have long relied on reciprocal trade and other types of interdependence.
  • Due to disparities in taxes and trade restrictions, illegal commerce has given rise to special interest organizations that profit from smuggling. The sooner a framework to open and liberalize border trade is established, the better for the economies of border areas and both countries.
  • To establish the amount of water sharing, the government must organize a tripartite committee with members from India, Bangladesh, and the state of West Bengal. West Bengal does not participate in Joint River Commission meetings at the moment.
  • Illegal migrants must be deported, according to the administration. Furthermore, the government should not grant illegal immigration voting rights or citizenship.
  • To reduce border concerns, governments could enlist the help of combined troops. Illegal trading, human trafficking, cattle smuggling, and so forth. This will result in greater crime-fighting results and improved civil-military ties.
  • India needs to enhance regional organizations such as SAARC and BIMSTEC. This will give India’s Neighborhood First program a boost.


In general, relations between India and Bangladesh have been positive. Many Indians have also expressed opposition to the barrier, citing the fact that certain border villages rely heavily on informal (i.e. illegal) trade over the India-Bangladesh border. According to some estimates, the value of illegal cross-border trade outweighs the value of legitimate cross-border trade. However, border conflicts have resulted in fatalities on at least one occasion: in April 2001, border guards clashed in Kurigram, one of the few locations disputed by the two countries, and several troops died on both sides.

Mains oriented questions:

What distinguishes the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) from others? What impact will this agreement have on India-Bangladesh relations? Examine. (200 words)