A Borderless World ?

A Borderless World ?

                                                                                         Buddhi Narayan Shrestha

Prof. Gayatri Chakravotry Spivak; a theorist, critic, and Professor at Columbia University- USA spoke in a talk program at Hotel De l’Annapurna in Durbar Marg on  21 December 2011 in Kathmandu, organized by Dabur Nepal Intellectual Excellence Series.

Her talk was on the theme ‘A Borderless World?’ The question suggests that there is no certainty, no guarantee of such a world, and yet the idea, in Spivak’s own terms, is ‘doable’. She is convinced that while there might never exist a future where visas and passports become obsolete, yet a seamless world whose walls have been demolished by capital, technology and knowledge of languages is surely feasible. Spivak said, the possibility of a borderless world hinges largely on economic justice. For this, the downtrodden must acquire living skills and learning should commence from the ground up, so people are able to think from a global perspective early on.

She further said, we must keep dreaming, which are two-fold, and could serve as a model. First is the nation dream, where she envisions a strong nation, which can only be achieved through recognizing the necessity of the subaltern in changing the world. This requires understanding the desires, and not just the needs of the subaltern.

The second is the island dream. Spivak claims that we are all islands in our own right, making a critical statement against the exclusivist, chauvinistic, racist notions put forth by staunch nationalists in any country of power. If every country or continent were to be considered islands, exposed to and defined by the same seas, where then are these all-determining borders between us? Further, if the planet itself were to be considered as an island, how insignificant does that render us humans in the larger picture? Knowledge of this vulnerability should inspire nations to rethink their loyalty to borders and frontiers within the larger schematics of the earth’s ‘planetarity’, and dismiss it as an absurdity.

In the recent times, Spivak has spoken and written on the issues of terrorism, globalism, aesthetics, and education. She has founded an Education project to provide a primary education of quality for children in rural areas of West Bengal, India.

The talk program was attended by diverse group comprising of high officials of Nepal government, border researchers, Indian diplomats, art historians, corporate executives, media personnel, students and teachers, a rare opportunity to come face to face with, for the first time, such a globally acclaimed a literary theorist in Kathmandu.

In the evening of the same day (21st December), Institute of advanced Communication, Education and Research (IACER) organized a round table discussion at Club Himalaya at Nagarkot. This scribe was one of the participants in both the events at Hotel De l’ Annapurna and Club Himalaya.

There was a lively discussion at Club Himalaya, Nagarkot including syllabus, curricula of south Asian Studies and a possibility of Borderless World (?) as well.

During the round table discussion, this scribe tried to highlight on a topic ‘Is it possible to create a Borderless South Asia?’ I expressed that answer of the question contains ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

The answer is ‘yes’ in terms of economic growth and prosperity among nations. It can be beneficial to harness and usefulness of natural resources, hydro-power generation, mineral exploration and so on and so forth. At the same time, it helps to strengthen mutual relationship of south Asian region in political social and people to people level.

In the other side of the coin, my answer is ‘no.’ It means it doesn’t  suit ‘Borderless South Asia.’ It is due to cross-border terrorism, criminal activities, security concern, smuggling of narcotics, transportation of fake currency, human trafficking, abduction of people etc.

For example, there is an open border regime between Nepal and India. It has created so many unwanted activities like cross-border terrorism through the porous border. Terrorists travel from one country to the other at ease without any interrogation, crossing the international border. As an instance, Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LT) member Muhammad Omar Madni traveled through Nepal en-route to New Delhi in June 2009. US Country Report on Terrorism- 2009 says, ‘there is a possibility that members of extremist group could transit Nepal, especially into India. The large ungoverned space along the Nepal/India border exacerbates this vulnerability, as do security shortfalls at Tribhuvan airport, Nepal international airport.’

In the same way, criminals commit crimes in one frontier and they flee and cross the international porous border very easily, and hide in the other frontier. India is aware that Indian counter-fit currency Notes have been smuggled to India via Nepal. In this context, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar says, open border between Nepal and India has spoilt the economy of Bihar by the fake Indian currency.

Concerning the security of the people of both countries, small arms use to be smuggled without any restriction through wide open border. Similarly, trafficking of narcotic drugs en-route to Golden Triangle has been executed by the international smugglers. Same is the case of illegal human trafficking via India to Gulf countries. Indian industrialists have been abducted and brought to Nepal and Nepali businessmen and their children to Indian towns. They will be freed after the negotiation and payment of huge amount of ransom.

If there is a ‘Borderless South Asia’ all these unwanted and anti-social activities will be open and open. As a result, the people of these countries have to spend their life uncomfortably in terror and horror. Regarding the security concern of the people of South Asian Region, the border should be regulated to obstruct the terrorists, check criminals and unwanted elements, mainly to maintain peace and security.

Border business is a sensitive and complicated issue. It should not be confused in borderlessness. It is related to entire phenomena of the notion of nationality, social and economic notion, ethnicity and kith and kinship of the people of both the frontiers.

To solve all these problematic business, boundaries must be studied in a grass-root level. It has to be analyzed, how the frontier people are living and what are their woes and difficulties, what they really want. Border studies have to be done thoroughly in a joint co-operation basis. Integrated border development projects have to be launched by both sides simultaneously to make feel the people a notion of borderlesness, even there are physical border pillars, markers, demarcation of No-man’s land (Das Gaja) and presence of border security forces.

Including some excerpt from Kathmandu Post Daily: 2011-12-24

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