Daily Editorial Analysis for 23rd June 2020

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A way out of undelineated borders

Paper: II

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.


  • India Nepal boundary dispute.


India-Nepal boundary dispute:

  • The root of the misunderstanding between India and Nepal lies in the Treaty of Sugauli signed at the end of the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1815-16.
  • The Treaty of Sugauli stipulated that the Kali River would mark Nepal’s western border with the British East India Company.
  • The treaty had no map attached and the negotiators had no idea of the geography of the area which has added to the differing perceptions of the border on the two sides.

Agreed tri-junction:

  • The 1954 Trade Agreement between India and China mentions Lipulekh as one of the passes that could be used for trade and pilgrimage traffic; a police post was established by India at Kalapani in 1956.
  • The China-Nepal Boundary Treaty of 1961 is also in line with the current position.
  • The tri-junction, though not delineated, corresponds to the border claimed by India and shown on the British map of 1879, and in subsequent ones.

International law:

  • Principles of international law support the British and India’s claim.
  • Borders are established through political agreements and delimitation gives specific meaning to the verbal description and is considered part of the negotiations, and demarcation is the setting up of boundary markers.
  • In the case of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura, the political agreement has been acted upon and is not open to challenge now. A treaty has to be interpreted with reference to the circumstances prevailing at the time the treaty was concluded.
  • Nepal’s ploy of selective reference to certain maps of the British East India Company does not hold ground given the fact that its claim value is reduced by the delimitation done at that time.

Way forward:

  • It is imperative for India to come up with a white paper on the boundary. A white paper can help in clearing misapprehensions over the boundary.
  • The ensuing efforts should focus on resolving, not managing, different perceptions of the boundary.
  • The two countries should rely on the power of persuasion to settle misapprehensions left over by colonialism based on historical facts and summit diplomacy.
  • The same approach can be used to resolve the boundary dispute along the Line of Actual Control which is also not delineated.

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