After learning that the broker Jokhim had arranged a “signal clear” for the transport of six bulls across the India-Bangladesh border, the cattle transporter Alibaba had no time to speak to anyone. Indian border commanders who had accepted Jokhim’s bribes had verbally granted a signal, which Jokhim relayed to Alibaba by rushing to his house. A signal clear comprises a precious two-to-three-hour window of opportunity during which Indian cattle workers such as Alibaba can cross the border to Bangladesh with their animals.“Signal clear,” Alibaba said to me, tying his cotton gamosa (towel) around his head as protection against the heat and the rain.
Roads arrive with an announcement of some form of modernity. Roads arrive with the spirit of the State. Roads arrive with the echo of the law.
Nepal is a land-locked nation. It is disproportionately dependent and ‘close’ to the Indian Union due to its geographical location and the presence of the Himalayas that, for now, limits smooth connectivity between Nepal and China. Delhi’s influence on Nepal is largely borne out of this unfortunate geography – an influence that sometimes is no different from political blackmail.