Weekly Program on World Affairs


Border Security is an Outdated Concept- Dr. Shreesh K Pathak

Weekly Special: Interview with Dr. Shreesh K. Pathak

Dr. Shreesh K Pathak, is an expert in the domain of Border Security and its underlying issues and has published several papers related to Border Management. He is well versed in Global Affairs, Indian Political System and emerging domain of Liberal Arts. Dr. Shreesh is a celebrated author, commentator and debater in print, visual and digital media, in addition his writings are featured both in academic and public intellectual platforms. He is an institution builder, and a pioneer in multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary. and cross cutting research. He possesses an array of experience which intrigues the mind of students to learn shifting paradigms of internal and external factors of "Borders".

Following is an excerpt of the interview conducted with him by Afifa Iqbal  regarding Border Security and its significance, in which he is highlighting that Border Security is an outdated concept, we need Border Management to make our borders bridges as well as barriers. 

AI: What is border security and how can this play a decisive role in shaping a nation's foreign policy objectives


SKP: Firstly, I would like to thank you for choosing border security as a theme for this issue of AIIS Weekly. Often, various dimensions of security are discussed but borders are either neglected or reduced to  security barriers. In popular culture and literature borders usually represent and are associated with the process of othering, either as an associating factor or as a dissociation factor to the communities. But borders are much more than that. They are alive, dynamic and interactive. They contain a demography which is important and vulnerable to national security threats. Borders shape a nation. Without them, a nation cannot in form manifest its political and popular image in the world.  

Border security is essential for national security as securing borders means to secure a nation. Nowadays discussing perspectives on security has become increasingly relevant and security as a perspective consists of all possible dimensions of human life. To translate the security to perspective for the people, borders play a pivotal role as no nation can afford to live in isolation. That's why instead of border security, we now approach it with a term ‘’border management. It prepares borders to interact; like bridges, to invite the desired and as barriers to prevent the undesired too. As ensuring national security is one of the core objectives of the foreign policy of a nation, the grave significance of the correlation between border management and foreign policy is pretty evident. 

AI: What are some of the common challenges a nation faces with regard to the security of its border?

SKP: Challenges to border security are challenges to the well-being of a nation. Borders are the first to face them before it comes to the mainstream dimensions of the country. We can classify the challenges in terms of their manifestations into two categories, namely traditional and non-traditional challenges. Infiltration, illegal migration, border attacks, transnational crimes, cross-border conflicts, infrastructural challenges etc., are traditional challenges, known for a long time. Border breaching (through Drones), trafficking, smuggling, currency counterfeiting, virus attack, cross-border terrorism, cyberattacks are the nontraditional challenges which require more coordinated efforts along with innovative technological interventions. Thankfully, our government is fully aware of these challenges and is paying attention to the required preparedness. 

Image Source: Jagran Josh

AI: How important is the border security for a nation State in the contemporary world?

SKP: Border Security in any era cannot be ignored by any nation. This is true for irrespective of the capacity of the states. Securing borders is securing the very existence of the state. What is worth noticing in the contemporary world regarding the security of a nation, two important developments namely : (1)the interconnecting ongoing processes of globalization and (2)the evolution of the concept of border management. What are the benefits and harm of globalization, we are aware, but border management cannot be translated into reality until the nations who share corresponding borders do not sit together to discuss the mutual concerns and be ready to adopt common policy for managing their respective borders. Border security can be managed single-handedly but border management cannot be. In contemporary times globalization is compelling nations to make their borders fluid and porous in terms of economic engagements, whereas on another hand individuals of empowered civil society are demanding more for their rights and services which pressurizes a state to close their borders for globalization. Every state in the world is trying hard to strike a balance to treading on a middle path. This makes the discourse of border security and its management in the contemporary world very interesting and important.  


AI: As of 2023, what are some of the challenges India is facing with regard to its border security?

 SKP: In the current times, India is facing diverse issues with regard to its borders. Borders with each country are of different nature but typically we face issues because of colonial legacy and postcolonial mismanagement of boundaries. India shares its longest border with Bangladesh, but practically no one can differentiate between the two borders in the season of flood and rain. With China, the demarcation of boundaries is yet to be completed which invites many military provocations by China towards India. India-Pakistan border is marred by boundary disputes, which are very difficult to resolve due to politicization of mutual sentiments by the respective governments, especially for Pakistan, anti-India campaigns are used like trump cards for general elections. With Bhutan and Nepal, we have practically an open border system, but Chinese influence seems to have an impact on these worthy arrangements gradually. India-Myanmar border is charred by cross-border crimes, trafficking of arms, drugs and illegal migration, where at a governmental level cooperation is evident. Maritime borders have their own set of multifaceted challenges. 

 India must take lead in the management of South Asian borders by involving all the stakeholders. There seems to be no other way out. All South Asian nations are required to recognize their common enemies like poverty, unemployment, terrorism, etc., and they are required to recognize their unified strength for the way forward.