The Siliguri Corridor is a terrifyingly vulnerable artery in India’s geography.
If you’ve been following The Pulse here at The Diplomat recently, you may have noted a few recent pieces (including one by yours truly) on India’s North-Eastern states. In any discussion of the governance problems or border issues in India’s North-East, a commonly mentioned word is “isolation.” The North-Eastern states are politically and geographically distant from New Delhi, and certain parts of the region share more in common culturally with Burma than they do with Punjab, or even West Bengal. A quirk of South Asian political geography has made it quite challenging for New Delhi to effectively integrate the North-Eastern states: the Siliguri Corridor.
Like most of the borders in South Asia, the Siliguri Corridor – known also as the “Chicken’s Neck”– is a cartographic relic of the British decolonization process. As the British Empire withdrew and partitioned British India along religious lines to create the modern states of India and Pakistan (which was then divided into East and West Pakistan), it drew the lines that lead to the Siliguri in an attempt to maintain contiguity between Bengal and Assam. The creation of East Pakistan (which became Bangladesh in 1971) along religious lines necessitated the awkward choke point in India’s contemporary geography. The Siliguri, at its slimmest point, puts less than a marathon’s distance between the Bangladeshi and Nepalese borders (14 miles).
跟南亚大多数国家的边界类似，西里古里走廊 – 也被称为鸡脖子 – 是英国在非殖民化进程中留下的遗物。英帝国撤退後根据宗教界线分割了英属印度，建立了印度和巴基斯坦 (後者分为东巴基斯坦和西巴基斯坦)，为了保持孟加拉邦和阿萨姆邦的接触，划界时留下了西里古里。沿着宗教界线建立的东巴基斯坦 (在1971年变成孟加拉国)成为印度当代地理学的重重阻碍。西里古里，如同它最薄弱的要害，挤在孟加拉国和尼泊尔的边界之间 (14英里)，宽度不足马拉松路线的长度。
All land trade between North-East India’s 40 million denizens and the rest of the country traverses the Siliguri owing to the lack of a free-trade agreement between India and Bangladesh. In 2002, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh joined India in discussing a proposal to create a free-trade agreement that would have facilitated the movement of goods across the Siliguri corridor, but no such agreement has been established. Further reinforcing the strategic precariousness of the region is the fact that a single-line railway is all that carries rail-based freight across the Siliguri. The harsh topography of the region makes the railway and roads subject to damage from frequent landslides and natural disaster; India’s North-East is known for its record-breaking levels of rainfall.
India’s fortunes in the Siliguri were slightly ameliorated when the tiny monarchy of Sikkim – situated just north of the Siliguri, between Nepal, China, and Bhutan – merged with India in 1975 to become its second-smallest state. Sikkim had long been a subject of controversy between India and China. In the early 2000s, China refused to acknowledge Sikkim as part of India, maintaining that it was an independent state. The decision to do so was sparked by a controversy around the 17th Karmapa of the Black Hat branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Nevertheless, in 2003, China granted de facto recognition of Sikkim as a part of India by ceasing to list it as a separate state on its official documents and maps.
君主制国家锡金 – 位于西里古里北部，介于尼泊尔、中国和不丹之间 – 在1975年时被并入印度，成为印度第二小的邦后，印度在古里西里的命运稍有改善。锡金一直以来是中印之间长期的争议焦点。21世纪初，中国拒绝承认锡金是印度的一部分，坚持认为它是一个独立国家。然而在2003年，中国停止在官方文件和地图将其列为一个独立国家，给予锡金是印度一部分的事实承认。
In acknowledgement of its importance to India’s national security, the state maintains a heavy patrol presence in the Siliguri region. The Indian Army, the Assam Rifles, the Border Security Force, and the West Bengal Police all patrol the region. India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is known to closely observe Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Bangladeshi activity in the region as well. Among other issues, the Siliguri has been vulnerable to illegal Bangladeshi immigration into India. Certain analysts have also speculated that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has attempted to exploit the Siliguri via Nepal-based insurgents.
The Siliguri Corridor is a terrifyingly vulnerable artery in India’s geography. For Indians in the North-East, every look at a map is a sobering reminder of just how fragile their physical and economic tether to the rest of the country remains. Unlike so many of the problems India faces, the Siliguri Corridor’s vulnerability is a cruel endowment of political geography and essentially one it is stuck with. On the bright side, the current level of strategic vulnerability is far lower than it was in the past and can be further moderated with the establishment of a free-trade agreement between the states bordering the Siliguri.
Sikkim merged with India? Invaded and annexed by India is more like it.
As a country that prides itself on being the largest democracy on earth, and as a country that is still struggling to meet the basic needs of its senselessly expanding population, India should seriously consider letting go of the restless states east of the "chicken neck".
Just let the region go its own way and become independent.
The Indian government really needs to learn something that the average adult is expected to learn by age 30: don't take on tasks you can't handle.
Artificially created countries are the worst of the lot. Look at the middle-east, Africa, and India. Merging and artificially splitting ethnic groups based on some imaginary line. Even worse so when you add religion into the mix. Greater Bengal should of been a seperate state, along with the North-East, split by the will of the populace. The many wars between Pakistan and India are the legacy of British folly in the Indian subcontinent.
You are an outsider and you'll never understand the intricacies of what being Indian is. We don't belong to one religion, one race or one ethnic group. We are very diverse and yet we are one. North east India, West Bengal and Kashmir and all other problematic areas are vital to the idea of India. We wouldn't be the same without these regions.
Just because you are repeating a lie zillion times doesn't make it true. This China invaded Tibet thing is a narrative first invented by the British, and later on picked up by the US for geopolitical reasons and India benefits from it and exploits it for its own political goals. Only pseudo historians will regurgitate this nosense for its target audience consumption. India duplicities in this Tibet thing will eventually backfire on India and may even cause the breakup of India. History works in a mysterious way and I can think of at least several scenarios that this can happen.
No matter how elaborate you try to explain away why Sikkim is part of India now. The truth is that India invaded and annexed Sikkim in 1975, the cuminations of many years of work from RAW.
India would break up only if the people of India want to break it …… external forces can never break India …..
What a lot of nonsense! The "annexation of Sikkim" is no different from Iraq's invasion and conquest of of Kuwait. India has no excuse, legal standing nor legitimate right to SIkkim. Did it's people agree to integration with India? Did the King agree to it willingly? By right, the UN should send an armed force to evict India from Sikkim. And perhaps the whole of its North Eastern states!
Agree. India should give it up or waste resources on this needless frontier which is more burdensome than helpful. With US troops leaving Afghanistan next year, India's western front will hot up. Resources will be scarce between these fronts and eventually India will have to give it up.
A devastating war with China in these impoverished eastern states will also force India to withdraw.
China should never have allowed it. People in Tibet are more prosperous than in South Tibet.
This is exactly what I mean. India will break apart by itself due to the internal forces.