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DC Edit | Building fences with states' help


Published on: December 19, 2022 | Updated on: December 19, 2022

Union Home Minister Amit Shah with West Bengal Chief Mamata Banerjee. (PTI Photo)

"Good fences make good neighbours," said English poet Robert Frost. It’s very true of individual neighbours. Countries have, however, proved that thick and strong boundary walls are not the exact way to keep good neighbourly relations; something like a line would do between two peoples who have, in the course of time, become part of two countries but share a common past and hope for a shared future. And boundaries keep changing.

India has a couple of difficult neighbours which, together with it, once made one of the biggest nations on earth. Three quarters of a century is a long enough period for its peoples to bring down the artificial walls and look forward to a journey together. Unfortunately, that option is not open to India as the porous borders bring only infiltrators; not friends and brothers. Hence, the second option is to build strong fences and keep them thusly.

Union home minister Amit Shah would want the governments of the border states in the east to be part of the Government of India’s efforts to build those strong fences. It has so far been the job of the Union government, which has been meeting its commitment using various agencies such as the Border Security Force (BSF), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the defence forces. Mr Shah would now want the state governments to also do part of the job. He wants state governments of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Sikkim to equally share the responsibility with the BSF in protecting the international borders of the country in the region. The state governments should proactively help the BSF to build its infrastructure so that border security can be beefed up, he has told them. Some chief ministers have complaints about the Union government and the BSF and also issues amongst themselves. Mr Shah has proposed a mechanism to settle them. It is a welcome move when the Union government acts in the spirit of cooperative federalism. Securing the borders can undoubtedly be one such move. But it should not be a burden, especially in the financial sense, on the states.