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Governing Cross-Border Ecology, Hazards and Population Movement: Narratives and Counter-Narratives from India and Bangladesh

Chapter

Abstract

India and Bangladesh share their largest international boundary with each other. This boundary was drawn in 1947 largely on the basis of religious demography. Issues of ecology, economy and patterns of population movement in the region were completely overlooked. As a result, despite the existence of international boundary, spatial continuities in distribution and flows of ecological and socio-economic traits are clearly visible in the region. There also exists a strong functional correlation between these traits. Any change in the ecosystem (e.g. pollution of transnational rivers) on one side often produces adverse socio-economic impact on the other side as habitat destruction, economic decline and population displacement. The crossing of international boundary by some of these environmental refugees is a major irritant for bilateral relations.

Thus, the discordance between political and ecological boundaries between India and Bangladesh is a perfect setting for many bilateral conflicts. Among these, disputes over sharing and management of trans-boundary rivers and population movement are particularly prominent. These apparently simple cases of inter-state disputes frequently generate strong narratives and counter narratives on both sides of the boundary which become major hindrances in resolving bilateral problems.

This chapter examines responses of these states and various non-state actors to the shifting geographies of trans-boundary rivers in India and counter population movement from Bangladesh. It also seeks to explain underlying motives behind varied responses and their implications. Finally, the paper suggests that governance of these problems would, above all, require an appreciation of ecological and socio-economic interconnectedness of the region.

Keywords

Cross-border disasters Border disputes India Bangladesh Transboundary water governance Disaster narratives 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyInstitute of Science, Banaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia

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