Bordering at India Nepal Open Border: An Overview

By Kalpana Jha

Nepal India border and its openness needs to be understood from the perspective of cross-border social, political and economic networks that has existed in the past and if new formations are taking place. This understanding imagines borders as not only physical spaces, but as zones of identity, subjectivity, resistance, and place-making; borders demonstrate continuity across national territories and manifest logics of power (Passi, 2003; Latham, 2014; Sendhardt, 2013). Nepal India border is not an integrated border like the EU model nor is it a post-modern borderless arrangement. The paradoxical openness of the border also embodies in itself a prominent characteristics of persistence. It is an epitome of illustrations of the increasing complexity of borders in contemporary political life, border between Nepal and India also provides with a unique case where although physical boundaries or what Vaughan-Williams terms ‘line in the sand’ is almost invisible (Parker & Vaughan-Williams, 2012), it entails the amalgamation of the manifest sensing of a non-manifest border (Parker & Adler-Nissen 2012; Bhabha, 1994) through continued exercise of agency emerging from the everyday interactions at the borderlands. This aids the bordering process distinctively from that of the state where meaning making of the bordering process is native to the borderlands itself. India-Nepal border thus epitomises the case of interwoven territoriality that is rather natural defined by ancient cross-polity affiliations and a rather natural movement across polities that was and continues to be understood as a single geographical and cultural unit.

While the ancient ties continue through the shared religious beliefs and institutions, modern institutions developed as a part of the modern development narratives such as dams and roads have provided new dimensions to the bordering processes between Nepal and India. This presents with evermore intriguing picture of social networks and how these determine the everyday bordering processes. These interactions at the border which is an inhabited territory and represents human geography rather than fences and walls have also remained at the core of its openness. (Wait for my second blog for a theoretical reflection and comparison with the lectures and speed presentations).

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