It is increasingly being recognized in the study of international relations that Borderlands represent a dynamic subsystem marked by complex and historical interlinkages between communities and local governance systems that transcend established inter-state boundaries. The concept of interstate borders (and the functional role of frontier regions) in international relations has undergone a fundamental shift.
Borders are not only seen as barriers, but also as institutional mechanisms that create new opportunity structures for the communities residing adjacent to them. Despite the emergence of the interdisciplinary field of Borderland Studies (and the creation of academic associations both regionally and globally) there is still a marked disjuncture in terms of practical and academic training being provided to students of the social sciences (such as international relations, political science, history and sociology) in the Indian context for understanding developmental trajectories of Borderlands. Furthermore, very few International Relations (IR) Departments in South Asia have mainstreamed field based engagement on transboundary issues and border development into their research programmes and curriculum development. In order to bridge the gap between theory, policy research and praxis the Centre for Border Studies (CBS) provides an alternative pathway to researching international relations by focusing on community development and social innovation in border regions.
 India shares borders with Bangladesh (4097.6km), Bhutan (699km), China (3488km), Myanmar (1643), Nepal (1751km) and Pakistan (3323 kms). For further details see https://mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/DEpartment_of_Border_23042018.pdf. For details on Maritime Boundaries see https://www.idsa-india.org/an-jan9-5.html
The programme aims at generating new frameworks for participatory research and documenting best practices by directly partnering with institutions (broadly defined as government, civil society and community-based) that are located in border areas.
The Centre also prioritizes the pedagogical component (as integral to its research initiatives) and has co-established the Certificate Programme in Border Studies. The aim of the Certificate Programme is to train a new generation of scholars and policy analysts by providing opportunities to understand methods of field research, community engagement and linkages with the broader theoretical scholarship on Borderlands.
Furthermore, the programme will enable participants to work on small-scale research and transboundary policy action projects that will lead to collaborations with stakeholders based in the regions of study (with a view to provide micro-level, contextually sensitive and evidence based policy formulation). The four pillars of the Centre are: Research Initiatives, Certificate Programme in Border Studies, Border Studies Immersion Programmes (Field Schools and Internships) and Advocacy.
It is to be noted that the Centre for Border Studies builds on the experience of the previous teaching programmes and applied research projects of JSIA that have been conducted by the earlier CSPV (Centre for Study of Political Violence) and Borderlands Studies Programme since 2012. Some of these programmes include the Joint Internship Programme in Humanitarian
Healthcare 2013, Training Workshop on Working in Disaster Relief 2013, Community Peace and Social Recovery Fellowship 2015, Winter Institute in Development Planning for India Borderland Regions (WIDPBR) 2016, Winter Institute in Development Planning for Bhutan-India India Borderland Regions, 2017, JSIA-NEISSR (Nagaland) internship programme 2018, JSIA-NEISSR Student Immersion Programme & Partnership Engagement and Network Meeting 2019, Rural Practical and Livelihoods Immersion Programme 2019, JSIA-NEISSR Summer School on Transboundary Social Innovation and Community Development Practice in Border Areas 2019. The previous experience was critical as it led to the development of Programme Management Cycles and identifying learnings in terms of conduct of fieldwork and logistics. The previous programmes also led to the development of research methodologies that are contextually appropriate. Whereas the previous programme successfully linked participants to governance institutions and civil society organizations, it was observed that a more sustained and enhanced engagement (as well as outreach) in border areas and key neighboring countries was required.
The Centre for Border Studies seeks to conduct research in border regions through collaborations and participation of institutions based in border districts and border communities. Some of the Key Research being undertaken include:
B.A.D.P Case Studies: The Project focuses on challenges in delivery of developmental services in Border Areas as well as documenting community based innovations in these regions. The key focus of the programme is providing assessments of the Border Area Development Programme and developing a cross-cutting alliance of institutions with a view on improving service delivery. The current focus of the project is on building narratives and case studies from the Indo-Myanmar, Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Nepal border regions.
Rehabilitation Challenges in J&K [LoC] and Confidence Building Measures (CBMs): Media Monitoring and Humanitarian Assessments: The programme seeks to develop a framework to understand the impact of ceasefire violations and other forms of violence in key districts the Line of Control (LoC) in the Jammu and Kashmir Region. The focus of the project is to examine Risk Mitigation, Rehabilitation and Recovery measures for communities living along the LoC as well as rehabilitation. The project is transboundary in nature and is currently mapping incidents on both sides of the LoC and deriving the overall conflict burden.
Health Inequity in Border Regions: This is collaborative project and seeks to document health inequities caused by conflict in a border area.
Border Trade, Markets and Infrastructure: The project involves an ethnographic approach to the history of two local markets in a border area and seeks to understand the transnational lives of traders and communities that are dependent on these market dynamics.
The Archive of a Border
The archive provides a record of long-term engagement in the BTAD Districts of Assam with field observations from two districts the Indo-Bhutan Border. The archive has activity reports and findings of previous Winter and Summer Schools. The Centre for Border Studies is now seeking to develop a visual and oral history of the markets, people and places in the Indo-Bhutan Border Villages.
Field Assessment Reports
The Certificate Programme in Border Studies is the second key sub-component of the Centre. The teaching component is defined as Credited Field Course and Certificate Programme which allows for emerging young scholars of social sciences from the academic partner organizations to become sensitized to developmental and governance challenges faced by those residing in border regions (through a structured curriculum, field visits and networking initiatives).
A Mechanism to critically reexamine the fundamental concepts of international relations: sovereignty, borders, formal and informal trade and cross-border cooperation. An initiative that allows participants to develop original research and policy action projects and building an interface with organizations and government officials working in the borderland regions.
A Platform for Policy Innovation that leads to the documentation of best practices and development of new models for cross-border cooperation through rigorous comparative and participatory analysis. The Certificate Programme in Border Studies [6-Credits] is envisaged to be conducted bi-annually, with specific thematic focus. In addition, it is envisaged that continuous policy engagement with partner institutions will allow for and additional activities including internships throughout the year. Included in the calendar of activities is one annual event [policy workshops and conferences] that will be conducted at JGU or in additional locations.
Based on partnerships and networking agreements [including MoUs] participants will be provided internship projects in the partner organizations on specific areas of work as outlined in the agreement. The duration of the internship and placement will be for a minimum period of 1-month and can be extended based on the feedback from the organization. A minimum fee structure will be provided, to cover accommodation and local costs. However, scholarships will be disbursed, based on availability of funding.
The aim of the internship is to provide students with an immersive field experience and develop independent research as well as gain practical skills. Students will be eligible to enroll in both the Certificate Track and Internship Pathway. In addition, Capstone Projects will be offered based on partnership agreements. Currently, the Centre for Border Studies is developing long-term operational partnership agreements across the states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. The Centre is also engaging in outreach in countries such as Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand. The key objective of the outreach is to develop joint programmes, building on previous Winter and Summer School format, that have been implemented since 2013.
All events and workshops are conducted under the pillar of Advocacy. This include conferences, seminars, outreach visits, training programmes, consultation meetings and workshops. The website of the Centre for Border Studies will provide detailed updates on the activities being conducted with a 3-monthly newsletter. The key areas of advocacy are Military-Civil Society Interface &Training Modules on BADP, BRGF, CAP, Aspirational Districts and Rehabilitation Schemes.
Dr. Samrat Sinha Dr. Samrat Sinha, Associate Professor, Jindal School of International Affairs, Executive Director, Centre for Border Studies, Executive Director, Centre for Study of Political Violence (CSPV), JSIA
Dr. Samrat Sinha is currently Associate Professor at JSIA. Some of the studies conducted include: Commissioned study on District Level Community Based Peacebuilding Mechanisms in Northeastern India; Assam Ethnic Violence and Needs Assessment of IDP camps in the 2014-2015 Nutrition Survey and Field Assessment in the aftermath of the Ethnic Violence in Assam in IDP camps (2012-onwards); Commissioned field study on Child Welfare in Conflict affected districts of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand (2015); Study on Insurgency Dynamics in Manipur and development on micro-level event database on Manipur Insurgency (2010 onwards). Post-Disaster Studies include: Jammu and Kashmir Flood Impact Evaluation Study 2015; Sikkim Earthquake, 2011; Cyclone Aila, Sunderbans Region of West Bengal, 2009; Andhra Floods 2009; Bihar Kosi Floods 2008. Dr. Samrat Sinha also directed Winter and Summer Schools on Border Studies that is taught collaboratively with civil society organizations and academic institutions in Bodoland. Professor Samrat Sinha taught at the Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management (JTCDM), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)-Mumbai between 2008 and 2012. His broad areas of work are on peacebuilding and humanitarian assistance. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations (University of Delaware, USA), an MA in Political Science and International Relations (University of Delaware, USA), MA in International Politics (JNU) and a BA(Honors) History (University of Delhi).
Rohan Khattar Singh is a Master’s student of Diplomacy, Law and Business at O.P Jindal Global University in Sonipat, Haryana. He is interested in researching on the topic of internal and non-state conflicts. He has a Bachelor’s in International Affairs from James Madison University, Virginia, USA. He is a co-author of a book “Two Lanes Through Afghanistan”. The book is based on the field Research that Rohan connected in Kabul based on the road connectivity of Afghanistan within the country and with neighboring countries. He has interned with the Embassy of India in Washington D.C in the political wing. He has interned with the Reliance petrochemical factory in Jamnagar, Gujarat in the Corporate Affairs division. He has also done part-time work in Aramark in Virginia, USA. Aramark is a Fortune 500 company that deals with the Food industry. He is well versed with Microsoft Excel, and SPSS and can read and write in English, Hindi, Farsi.
Krupa Vasani is a second-year undergraduate student at the Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU), India. As a student of International Affairs; I have pursued coursework in subjects like International History, International Security, International Economics, International Organisation, Indian Foreign Policy and Foreign Policy Analysis among others. She has been an intern at the university’s Centre for Afghanistan Studies. She is part of JGU International Relations Society that organizes events such as conferences and quizzes. She also serves as the Student Placement Representative of JSIA and assists the Office of Career Services in helping students in receiving internship and Placements. She is a board member of Diplomania, is responsible for organizing public lectures, events, quizzes and debates.
Vanshika Ramkrisha Singh, is a second year student of B.A. Global Affairs at Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University. Being a student of Global Affairs, I have an understanding of Political Theory, International History, International Economics, Indian Foreign Policy among other subjects as well. Vanshika is a member of the Student Grievances Resolution Cell, and the class representative for the past one year. While interning with Centre for Studies of Society and Secularism, I further explored my interest in studying post conflict societies and understanding the extent of role played by identity and gender in peacebuilding and intersectional growth in developing societies. Her previous internships were with Madison Media House and Centre for Strategic Studies and Simulation, United Services Institution.
Recruitment of Research Analysts and Interns
The CBS is currently seeking committed students to participate in ongoing projects. Research Analysts will contribute to the regular programmes and projects of CBS-JSIA, whereas interns will be provided Terms of Reference for short-term assignments ranging from 1 to 3 months. As part of the recruitment screening process, candidates can send their Transcripts, Current CV, Statement of Purpose and a Writing Sample to BorderStudies@jgu.edu.in.
Professor Nimmi Kurian, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi and Faculty Advisor, India China Institute, The New School, New York.
Professor Nimmi Kurian She was Fellow (2008-2010) and India Academic Representative (2010-2015), India China Institute, The New School, New York. Her research interests include Asian borderlands, comparative regionalism and sub-regionalism, Indian foreign policy, constituent diplomacy and transboundary water governance. She is one of the contributors to the India Country Report as part of the Bangladesh China India Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIMEC) Joint Study Group, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. She is also part of the Asian Borderlands Research Initiative, a network of scholars interested in the reconfiguration of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of borderlands. Her recent publications include: India and China: Rethinking Borders and Security (co-eds) University of Michigan Press, 2016; The India China Borderlands: Conversations Beyond the Centre, Sage, 2014; ‘The Rupee’s Reach: The Lending Curve of India’s Development Diplomacy in South Asia’, CPR Policy Brief, February 2017; ‘The Blind Men and the Elephant: Making Sense of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative’, CPR Policy Brief, December 2016. She has an ongoing Book Project: Spaces and Subversions: Towards a Social History of India-Burma Relations in the Twentieth Century.
Dr. Joyeeta Bhattacharjee, Senior Fellow with Observer Research Foundation’s Neighborhood Regional Studies Initiative, New Delhi.
Dr. Joyeeta Bhattacharjee specializes in India’s neighborhood policy, especially the eastern arch; Bangladesh’s domestic politics and foreign policy; border management; conflict and conflict resolution in India’s Northeast; and gender concerns. Joyeeta has published many articles in various newspapers and reputed journals. Some of her recent publications include her papers titled “Bangladesh Army’s Corporate Interest” (2010), “India-Bangladesh Border Management: The Challenge of Cattle Smuggling” (2013), and “India-Bangladesh Relations: Ten-point agenda,” (August 2014). In 2014 she participated in Water Future-II, a dialogue for young scholars and professionals of South Asia, simultaneously held in Kolkata and Dhaka and jointly organized by Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi, and Dhaka University. Joyeeta holds a PhD from Assam University, Silchar. The title of her thesis was “Conflict Resolution and Peace: New Dimensions in Applied Ethics.” She completed her Master of Arts in Philosophy from the same university in 1999. She was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship by the Indian Council for Philosophical Research.
Mr. Raju Narzary, Executive Director and Founding Trustee, North East Research and Social Work Networking (NERSWN), Kokrajhar, BTAD Assam
Mr. Raju Narzary is a social activist working to promote equitable development in the villages of Bodoland. Raju’s first introduction to activism was with the student movement in Assam. He went on to obtain a Masters’ Degree in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences before returning to work in Assam. He currently works to promote the right of communities in Bodoland to equitable health. He promotes the livelihood of women vendors and conducts actionable research for development. He is also a member of the People’s Right Forum, Assam, National Campaign for Right to Food, the Lower Assam NGO Forum and the Medico Friend Circle.
Dr. Michael Heneise, Founder Trustee, The Kohima Institute, Kohima (Nagaland).
Michael Heneise is the co-founder and director of the Kohima Institute. He has conducted research in the Andes of South America, and in the Himalayas of Northeast India, and is generally interested is the intersection between indigenous knowledge, sacred ecology, and modernity. His doctoral research at Edinburgh University explored the relationship between dreams, sacred landscapes, and personhood among the Nagas in India. He is editor-in-chief of The South Asianist and co-editor of The Highlander, both open access journals published by Edinburgh University. He is also on the editorial board of Gitanjali and Beyond which promotes creative writing, artistic expression and research on Rabindranath Tagore’s work and life. Prior to Edinburgh he studied anthropology in Ecuador at the Latin American School of Social Sciences (FLACSO).
Dr. Sunil Kaul, Executive Director and Founding Trustee-the ant, Chirang, BTAD Assam.
Dr. Sunil Kaul is a founding member of the Action Northeast Trust (the ant), a voluntary development organization working to improve quality of life in northeastern India. The ant acts at two levels: working with communities to ensure basic services such as health care and local employment opportunities, and sharing knowledge and experiences with a variety of NGOs across the region through training workshops and printed publications. Dr. Sunil Kaul guides the ANT’s programs to strengthen society by devising strategies that will add value to development practices and promote peace. He has also trained nongovernmental groups in community health and formulating health strategies in different parts of India. He has an MSc in Public Health (in Developing Countries) from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is an Eisenhower Fellow, and a faculty member of Institute of Development Action (IDeA). He is also Financial Advisor of Aagor Daagra Afad, Trustee at Lowcost Standard Therapeutics, consultant to Community Health Initiative of Meghalaya, Rural Development Society and Advisor (Assam) to the Commissioners for Right to Food.
Dr. Deben Sharma, Assistant Professor, Northeast Institute of Social Sciences and Research, NEISSR, Dimapur, Nagaland.
Dr. Deben Sharma has a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from North Bengal University, M.Sc Anthropology and B.Sc Anthropology from Hans Raj College, Delhi University. Dr. Deben Sharma worked as Senior Research Fellow at VVD, Ukhrul (Manipur) from 2014- March 2017, served as Regional Facilitator Peace building and Conflict Resolution programs of the Henry Martyn Institute (HMI), Hyderabad. He has also worked as a Peacebuilding Coordinator at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) India from 2002-2005 and as Program Coordinator for state level peace initiatives and relief and rehabilitation programs from 1994-2000. He was a Research Scholar among an indigenous community in Bhutan from 1990-1994. He occasionally, writes on development, Peace & Indigenous People rights in local Newspaper and Journals.
Ms. Jennifer Liang (Founding Trustee-the ant and Director, Institute for Development Action, IDeA)
Jennifer Liang completed her Masters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and has been working in the area of health and women’s issues. She is the Programme Lead of IDeA– the Institute of Development Action and consultant to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation (UK). She is the Managing Trustee and a Founding Trustee of the Action Northeast Trust (ANT). She is also a trustee of Asha Darshan, Adviser at the Institute for Culture and Rural Development (I-CARD) and is a trainer at Institute of Development Action (IDeA). She is the former Northeast representative of Ashoka Innovators for the Public. She was awarded the United Kingdom’s Chevening Gurukul Scholarship in 2013 and studied globalization and leadership at the London School of Economics. Jenny is an alumni of the Aritra Leadership Accelerator Programme – a programme designed and run by IIM-Bangalore, Reddy’s Foundation & Phicus Solutions with the aim to develop 100 senior leaders for the voluntary sector in India. Her main areas of interest are gender equality, the development and rights of children, peace building and organizing capacity through training. She is committed to getting women into top leadership roles and to developing women leaders based on feminist principles.
Mr. Tanaji Sen, Executive Director, Registered Engineer for Disaster Relief-India, RedR-India.
Mr. Tanaji Sen is a humanitarian specialist and development worker with over fifteen years of experience and exposure to public health work, emergency responses, disaster risk reduction work, and capacity building in more than ten countries. He has a distinctive combination of experiences in development, disasters and conflicts spanning across management and development of projects and programmes, community based interventions, and primary and secondary research. Tanaji has worked in different sectors in diverse cultural and geographical settings and am at ease working in multicultural teams. Tanaji specializes in program and project management of humanitarian interventions particularly those focusing on public health and children’s issues, and design and delivery of trainings. He holds a Masters in International Humanitarian Action, Uppsala University and University of Groningen, a Master of Arts in Social Work, specializing in Medical and Psychiatric Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Sociology, Hindu College, University of Delhi.
Dr. Guru Balamurugan, Executive Director, Centre for Geoinformatics, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
Dr. Guru Balamurugan has been working as an Associate Professor Since March 2017 (Assistant Professor 2008-2017) in Centre for Geoinformatics, Jamsetji Tata School of Disaster Studies (JTCDS). He has made significant contributions towards curriculum, infrastructure development, teaching, research, extension activities and developed new courses for the M.Sc, M.Phil and Ph.D programmes at JTCDS. He established GIS and GPS related infrastructure facilities and set up the GIS-Lab. As co-coordinator for UGC-DRS, he brought in Rs.6.6 million worth of financial support for basic equipment facilities. In addition to administrative work, he provides regular teaching and guidance for M.Sc, M.Phil and PhD students. He has implemented several research projects worth of Rs.4.2 million as PI and Co-PI supported by national and international agencies. He has a Ph.D. from IIT-Mumbai and an M. Tech. in Remote Sensing from Bharathidasan University. He was a DAAD Fellow with a Specialization in Remote Sensing, GIS and Modelling.
Mr. Nishant Buragohain, DRR & CCA Consultant for Assam & NE Region, UNICEF-India
Nishant Buragohain is a humanitarian and disaster risk reduction (DRR) consultant with over 7 years of work experience in the sector. He is also a member of RedR India. Currently he is working with UNICEF India as the DRR and CCA Consultant for Assam and North-East Region. Previously he was the Emergency Programme Manager (Nepal) for Christian Aid (CAID) from December 2016 to August 2018. Prior to that, he was the Humanitarian Programme Coordinator for OXFAM India managing the ECHO funded Conflict Response Programme from 2015 to 2016. He has also served as the Project Coordinator for the Mercy Corps supported and ECHO funded Conflict Recovery Programme in Assam (2014-2015), Project Manager for Mercy Corps supported Post-Phailin Flood Recovery Project in Odisha (2014), Mercy Corps supported Flood Recovery Project in Uttrakhand (2014), and as the Training and Projects Officer for RedR-India (2011-2013). In terms of conflict programming experience in Assam, he has conducted multi-sectoral needs assessment in BTC (2012 and 2014) and Golaghat (2014) district in Assam. He has managed conflict response and recovery programmes across BTC, Karbi Anglong (undivided), Goalpara and Golaghat. He has developed the capacity of programme and partner staff on conflict sensitive programming. In addition, he was the Security Focal Point for Mercy Corps and OXFAM India. Nishant is a graduate of the Disaster Management Programme of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai) and has an undergraduate honors degree in Political Science from Delhi University.
Mr. Animesh Prakash, Assistant Manager, Assistant Manager & Project Lead (India), Trans-Boundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA)
Mr. Animesh Prakash is Assistant Manager at Oxfam, where he also leads the Trans-Boundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA) Project in India. TROSA is being implemented in four countries including India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. In India project reaches to marginalized riparian communities on Indo-Nepal, Indo-Bangladesh and Indo-Bhutan Borders. Trans-Boundary Water Governance, Risk Governance and Early Warning is Animesh’ s major areas of work at Oxfam. He has previously held critical positions in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction at Oxfam and UNDP and have managed resilience programmes in coastal eastern India and Haryana. He also has significant experience in managing Humanitarian programmes with Oxfam. His work in the field of early warning has received awards and accolades at various Global and regional platforms for innovation including UN Secretary General’s Climate Resilience Initiative, MIT, Spindle, Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation (DCHI) and Oxfam. He is also a recipient of UN-OCHA Humanitarian Research and Innovation Grant. An alumnus of TISS, Indian Law Institute and University of Delhi, he holds degrees in Disaster Management, Human Rights Law and Geography.