Paper co-authored by Deepanshu Mohan, Tanuja Raghunath and Sanjana Medipally on "Governing Dynamics of Cross-Border Trade: A Case Study from the Indo-Bhutan Border Region" - SADF Focus

February 02, 2017 | Deepanshu Mohan, Tanuja Raghunath and Sanjana Medipally


The northeast part of India shares around 98% of its border with neighboring countries in the eastern parts of South Asia. The spatial positioning of North Eastern states of India and their engagement with some of the neighbouring countries shape the governing dynamics of cross-border transnational developments; be it social, economic, cultural and political.

The nature of such developments are usually isolated from the scope of regional studies, especially those focusing on the study of economic relationships between two countries (via trade, capital flows etc.). Our study aims to move beyond the traditionally used methodological process of studying cross-border trade patterns; using a more economic anthropological approach to identify selected cross-border market spaces as niche, geo-spatial areas for understanding the unique nature of trade composition, operations of supply chain management, dual currency usage and the role of political geography. The North-Eastern ‘chicken-neck’ corridor remains characterized by a tough terrain, unfriendly neighbors, infrastructural blockages that obstruct the development of the region. Our field-based research study conducted with a team of six researchers seeks to understand cross-border trading practices on the India-Bhutan border through the use of market case studies, providing a diverse set of observations from vendor/merchant based interviews collected from markets positioned in the border villages of Dadgiri in Chirang district of Assam, India and the border town Gelephu of Sarpang district, Bhutan. This case study documents more of the narratives collected from the weekly-organized Dadgiri market in Assam. We observe that the operational governing dynamics of market provides an enriching perspective on gauging the social, economic and political landscape of the Indo-Bhutan border area beyond the Chirang district of Assam, India.
[1] This study would not have been made possible without the guidance, on-field supervision and research inputs offered by Professor Samrat Sinha, Professor Upasana Mahanta; Dr. Sunil Kaul and Dr. Jenifer Lang and the entire ANT staff for the local research and logistical support. The authors would also like to acknowledge the diligence and research contribution made by Ms. Palak Gulati in conducting intensive field based data collection; drafting regular reports during the entire length of the study with the co-authors.