Context: In the backdrop of troublesome territorial assertions, the South Asian region needs to be rethought of as a region of regions.


  • Even during the lockdown, the Kalapani region (located at the tri-junction of India-Nepal-China border) in Uttarakhand remained a hotbed for tensions between India and Nepal.
  • The issue is an example which questions the methods and strategies adopted by states in dealing with border questions as both, India and Nepal, got entangled in a heated debate but failed to solve the issue. 

Source: Tribune

Concerns while solving disputes:

  • States seldom recognize the fluidity across the borders: The state is the sole arbitrator of national interest which considers the encroached land more valuable rather than livelihoods, well being and lives of people living at the edge of the border.
  • Myopic hostility is used as the governing principle in the arbitration of territorial disputes which further deteriorates relations between the countries.
  • The term ‘region’ is not respected and understood by the states, their sole focus is on individual interest rather than growing region as a whole.
  • If not solved, then border disputes can endanger the success of other regional initiatives like BIMSTEC ( Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) or BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal).

Way Ahead:

  • South Asia needs to be rethought, not as a region of states, but as a region of regions that needs to be cultivated out of contact zones that exist beyond the limits of territorial boundaries shared by the member-states.
  • Issues need to be looked at from people’s point of view rather than from a statist paradigm which portrays it merely from a spatial point of view.
    • In the Kalapani Dispute, both countries must acknowledge the cultural and historic ties than merely focusing on the Porous Indo-Nepal border. 
  • South Asian states need to realize the difference between “regional cooperation” merely as advocacy and as an issue that demands self-approval and self-promotion. The latter demands recognizing differences and following a policy of mutual tolerance.

Region and regional identity are not just issues of “realpolitik” in South Asia; rather, the need is to “officially” accommodate this rather naturally drafted way of doing politics, if we are genuinely concerned about South Asian geopolitics. 

Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation:

  • It is an international organization of seven nations of South Asia and Southeast Asia, housing 1.5 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.5 trillion (2018).
  • The main objective is technological and economic cooperation among south Asian and southeast Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
  • It is headquartered at Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • It was established in June 1997.
  • Member states – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.


  • It is a subregional architecture of countries in Eastern South Asia, a subregion of South Asia. 
  • It meets through the official representation of member states to formulate, implement and review quadrilateral agreements across areas such as water resources management, connectivity of power, transport, and infrastructure. 


Key Words:

  • Statist Paradigm: As per this, nation states are the main actors in international politics. As such it is a state-centric theory of international relations. This contrasts with liberal international relations theories that accommodate roles for non-state actors and international institutions. 
  • Realpolitik: It is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises
  • Geopolitics: It is the study of the effects of Earth's geography on politics and international relations. 


Image Source: The Hindu