Publication Type:

Articles

Authors:

Raphael Susewind

Source:

Journal of International Relations, Volume 8, Number 2, p.18-38 (2010)

URL:

http://ora.ouls.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:9a4561cb-c360-4950-8157-83f5a04415de

Abstract:

Indo-Bangladeshi relations have long been dominated by two contentious issues: water-sharing at Farakka barrage - and migration across the open border. The connections between both issues remain however largely unexplored - even after the "environmental refugee" beacme a well imagined figure. In stark contrast to this scholarly compartmentalization, the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is said to be exceptionally "integrated", linking connected issues whereever possible. Were scholars of Indo-Bangladeshi, then, merely caught in narrow disciplinary perspectives? An in-depth analysis of archival evidence of the Farakka negotiations 1982-1997 as well as of diplomats' autobiographies leaves a mixed impression. On the one hand, linking river management to other bilateral issues did, when attempted, clog up the diplomatic system and lead to a stalemate. On the other hand, the IFS would nevertheless have preferred it if Bangladesh had allowed it - and tried to remain true to its Nehruvian legacy through "sequenced linkage". This finding has important implications for India's role in global climate negotiations, which similarly link environmental and non-environmental issues.