Hush baby..hush ! We are about to finish the wall, did anybody know ?..hell no ! The British miserably failed to accomplish this in 1905-11 and they called themselves the most powerful empire on earth. The Americans fretting over that 700 mile fence with Mexico could learn a lesson or two from the great Indian empire of the 21st century. India is just about to complete a 4,100 km (2500 mile) iron fence across the fifth longest land border on earth, across its border with one of its poorest neighbours, Bangladesh. And nobody knew.
Post or Pillar Number
West Bengal (India)-Bangladesh
0001 to 1001
1001 to 1067
1067 to 1338
1338 to 1397(North) & 1397 to 2250 (South)
2301 to 2358
Estimated cost of the fence and border roads is $1 billion (estimate) and the benefits ?
The reasons could be,
1. The very large number of Bangladeshi immigrants are changing the demographics of Indian border states like West Bengal and Assam. In Assam, Bangladeshi immigration is a very contentious issue that often determines many political futures, like the Mexican illegal immigration in the US. The illegal immigrants put added pressure on the already scarce resources of the Indian border states thereby coming in direct conflict with the local population.
2. Terrorism – The insurgent groups in India’s north-east, often use Bangladesh as a safe haven and launch pad though Bangladesh does not support them in any way.
3. The secular state of Bangladesh is in turmoil with powerful fundamentalist groups working towards the creation of an Islamic state. This could put at risk the Hindu population of Bangladesh (16% of the total population) and could trigger an exodus of 1970-71 proportions.
This will hurt India bad and India would want to avoid this at any cost.
4. Some 160 odd Boundary disputes with Bangladesh relating to the implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement of 1974.
Why the wall will fall,
1. Elementary – The population pressure and severe poverty in Bangladesh will cause this fence to fail. The 2.6 meter iron fence will not prevent the Bangladeshi – the poorest of poor in the world – from crossing over into India in search of work and a living. The Bangladeshi has only two choices, starvation or migration and in between there is a 2.6 meter fence.
2. Culture and language – families are split across the border like the wall of Berlin. Bangladesh is 98% bengali and the culture is very much Indian. When Yunus got the Nobel, almost every Indian felt like it was another Nobel for India. That explains it.
3. India and Bangladesh are friendly countries except for a few occasional, random incidents of
conflict between the border troops which both governments maintain they have not authorized. There is no military need for a wall.
4. Walls and fences can be easily broken and cut through – this is an inherent property of walls.
5. Floods – there are numerous incidents every year when flood victims are rescued to the other side of the border. There are reported incidents where around 2000 Indians were rescued and kept in Bangladeshi shelters. The wall has a very high chance to fail when the flood comes again.
Despite this, why did we build a wall and shun our neighbour ?
The answer could be India’s desire to “define” its fuzzy borders. This could be the real intention behind this wall. The Indian establishment has been on a overdrive in recent years to settle the territorial disputes. With China recognizing Sikkim, understanding with Pakistan on Siachen and Kashmir kept aside for the 22nd century, India very well knows that the North-East is where borderlines will now be redrawn in the sub-continent. The wall could serve this purpose, if you read between the lines.
The mammoth fence is no long-term solution to the problem of Bangladesh. It just adds to prevailing confusion and the wall is sure to fail. An ‘innovative’ idea is to adorn this wall with mural paintings on both sides and attract some serious tourism like China does, which could help Bangladeshi and Indian economy, at least the world would open its eyes to the beauty of India’s North-east.
Its time we learn from the mistakes of others and history, its time we recognize the futility of building walls.
Good Night and Good Luck !
sources : Economist , CIA factbook