Disputed territories of India

24 Nov 2022  Read 1002 Views

India is the largest and most significant country in South Asia. When it became independent, the first PM Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was clearly aware of world politics & certain other global events that directly and indirectly impacted India’s security, thus uplifting India's foreign policy, a set of political goals that define how a sovereign country will boost its diplomatic relations with other countries. But Nehru also considered India’s limitations at that time. When World War II was starting, and India was years away from independence, Nehru focused on the Indian role in the Asia-Pacific region & even convened two Asian Relations conferences giving suggestions on cooperative arrangements in Asia. This article will discuss India’s border countries, relations and disputed territories. So let’s get started.

India’s relations with its neighbours

India’s biggest limitation after the Cold war (1947- 1991) was the combination of the Cold War and regional and domestic factors, which slowly limited India’s foreign policy to a narrow geographical sub-region called “South Asia” & not beyond. But this situation changed as India came a long way since its independence in terms of its political, economic and military achievements. Besides the border disputes, India also shares rich relations with its neighbours. Therefore, India’s foreign policy has always regarded the concept of the neighbourhood as one of the developing areas. 

  • India, being a 'peace-loving country', shares a history of partnership with many countries & is a component of the BRICS and a major part of the developing world. 
  • The Ministry of External Affairs is the Indian government's agency looking after India's foreign relations.
  • However, in the decade between 1960 and 1970s, India's international position among developed and developing countries faded in the course of wars with China & Pakistan & disputes with other countries in South Asia.
  • So, India undoubtedly shares a great relationship with its neighbouring countries and provides moral support to democratic powers. However, it also shares a long history of border disputes with them

Thus, as promised in this article, let's begin with these border countries and their disputes with India.

India border countries list

Land Border Country

Length (Km) and (mi)

Currency

Border Force

Border Name

Bangladesh

4,096 kilometres (2,545 mi)

Bangladeshi taka

Border Security Force

India–Bangladesh enclaves exchanged in 2015

Bhutan

578 kilometres (359 mi)

Ngultrum

Sashastra Seema Bal

Open border

China

3,488 kilometres (2,167 mi)

Chinese Yuan

Indo-Tibetan Border Police & Special Frontier Force

Ardagh–Johnson Line, Macartney–MacDonald Line and McMahon Line

Myanmar

1,643 kilometres (1,021 mi)

Burmese Kyat

Assam Rifles and Indian Army

Indo- Bhutan border

Nepal

1,752 kilometres (1,089 mi)

Nepalese Rupee

Sashastra Seema Bal

Open border.

Pakistan

3,310 kilometres (2,060 mi)

Pakistani Rupee

Border Security Force

Radcliffe Line, Line of Control, Actual Ground Position Line and Sir Creek

       Afghanistan 2,640-kilometres (1,640-mi) Afghani - Durand line (Afghanistan and Pakistan)

India also shares its maritime border with Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Thailand, Maldives & Sri Lanka(> 400 km).

Border disputes of India

India has 15,106.7 Km of land border and a coastline of 7,516.6 km (boundary of a coast, where land meets the sea), including island territories. The neighbouring countries of India are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. P.S. India is located latitudinally in Northern Hemisphere and longitudinally in the Eastern Hemisphere.

1. China: Sino- Indian borderline

McMahon Line is a borderline between India & China, i.e. China-occupied territory of the East-Himalayan region and the Indian regions; India considers it to be the actual line of control (LAC), while China rejects it. The Indian Military has divided this LAC into three sectors-

  • Western Sector

  1. It is across UT of Ladakh & the Chinese-held Aksai Chin. In this sector, there is a territorial dispute over Aksai Chin. 

  2. India claims it as part of Kashmir, while China claims it is part of Xinjiang. This dispute dates back to the British empire’s failure to demarcate a legal border between China and India clearly. 

  3. During British rule, two lines were proposed: Johnson’s Line (Places Aksai Chin in Ladakh, supported by India) and McDonald Line (Places Aksai Chin in China, supported by China). 

  4. Presently, the LAC is the line separating Indian areas of Ladakh from Aksai Chin.

  • Central sector 

  1. It is across Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand; India shares about 625 km long boundary with China. 

  2. Both the sides do not have much disagreement over this area’s border.

  • Eastern sector

  1. It is across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. India shares a 1,140 km long boundary with China. This is the McMahon line. The Northeast state of 'Arunachal Pradesh' has been an important part of the state as claimed by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) as part of the region of South Tibet.

  2. The Sino-Indian War in 1962 resulted in most of Arunachal Pradesh being temporarily captured by the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

  3. China considers the McMahon Line illegal, stating that Tibetan representatives who had signed the 1914 Simla Convention which delineated the McMahon line on the map, did not have the right to do so.

Hence, China and India are vast countries with complicated borders and a host of problematic neighbours, so they can easily top the list of countries with the most territorial disputes, with 14 and 19 disputes each, respectively.

Read about India's Land Border relations with Neighbouring Countries here. 

Did you know? 

China & India never had a common border until China annexed Tibet. This annexation brought the dragon right to our doorstep and then Beijing (Republic of China) rejected the McMahon Line (border with a drawn boundary). But the 1914 Simla Convention between British India, the Tibetan government, and the Republic of China, agreed on this boundary with clear coordinates. However, among these three parties, the Tibet government disputed that part of the agreement which referred to the areas demarcated under them (the Tibetan government’s authority) i.e., the Blue Line, and those directly under the Chinese administration. And due to this, Ivan Chen, the Chinese representative, didn’t sign the final agreement. 

2. Pakistan: Indo- Pak borderline

  • Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) & Gilgit-Baltistan (region administered by Pakistan) 

  1. These two regions are disputed. Pakistan is said to be in the illegal occupation of approx 78,000 sq. km of the Indian territory in J& K. 

  2. As per the 1963 Sino-Pakistan Boundary Agreement, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq. km in PoK to China.

  • How India captured Siachen from Pakistan? 

  1. The Siachen Glacier is a military conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed 1,000-square-mile Siachen Glacier region in Kashmir. 

  2. With all major passes, the entire Siachen Glacier has been under India's administration since 1984 (Operation Meghdoot- Codename of an operation under which the Indian army seized Siachen Glacier in Kashmir).

  • Saltoro Ridge

  1. The Saltoro Mountains mountain range is a subrange of the Karakoram Heights. 

  2. They are located in the Karakoram's heart, on the Siachen Glacier's southwest side. India claims it as part of J & K, while Pakistan is part of Gilgit- Baltistan. 

  3. In 1984, India assumed military control of the main peaks and passes of the range. 

  • Sir Creek 

  1. Conflict between India and Pakistan over a 96 km long strip of water disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands. 

  2. The International boundary in the Sir Creek area & International Maritime Boundary line (IMBL) between India and Pakistan have not been marked.

3. Nepal: Indo- Nepal border

  • Kalapani: Kalapani is a valley administered by India as a part of the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. It is located on the Kailash Mansarovar route. India’s political map demarcates this as its region in Uttarakhand, while Nepal claims it as its westernmost part.

  • Kali River in the Kalapani region demarcates the border between India and Nepal. The Treaty of Sugauli signed between Nepal & British India (after Anglo-Nepalese War) in 1816 located the Kali River as Nepal's western boundary with India. The disputes in locating the river source led to boundary disputes between India and Nepal, with each country showing maps supporting their own claims.

  • Susta: This area is disputed between India (Uttar Pradesh) and Nepal. Susta is located on the bank of the Gandak river. The change of course by the Gandak river is the major reason behind the disputes in the Susta area.

4. Bangladesh

  • “Land Boundary Agreement” solved a few of the border disputes between India & Bangladesh. During the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Bangladesh in June 2015, the Land Boundary Agreement was ratified between India and Bangladesh in 1974 and its Protocol in 2011.

  • The 2015 Land Boundary Agreement significantly improved the exchange of 111 enclaves (17,160.63 acres) from India to Bangladesh and & the latter transferred 51 enclaves (7,110.02 acres) to India.

  • Implementing the Agreement and Protocol has settled all outstanding land boundary issues between India and Bangladesh.

5. Myanmar

There is no border dispute between India and Myanmar. However, certain sectors still need demarcation.

6. Bhutan

India and Bhutan are two neighbours with whom China has not settled its land boundary disputes. Talks on boundaries between Bhutan & China began in 1984, wherein they signed the Guiding Principles on the Settlement of the Boundary Issues in 1988 & the Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the border areas in 1998. These two agreements are the basis of a negotiated settlement of this dispute. 

Conclusion

India is a progressing industrialised nation. It has a history of partnership with many countries and is a component of the BRICS and a major part of the developing world. Our country has also been one of the founding members of several international organisations, such as the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank, G-20 major economies etc. Therefore, no doubt that disagreements between India and China, Pakistan and Nepal over the control of land have long plagued these areas. 

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 137 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content Curator at Finology Legal who pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course) & she is a patent analyst. She has pursued advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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