GS Mains Model Question & Answer: Do you agree there must be a feminist foreign policy for South Asia ? Give your arguments.

GS Mains Model Question & Answer: Do you agree there must be a feminist foreign policy for South Asia ? Give your arguments.

Q. Do you agree there must be a feminist foreign policy for South Asia ? Give your arguments. (12.5 Marks)

(General Studies Mains Paper I– Society : Role of women and women's organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues)

Model Answer :

Feminist Foreign Policy for South Asia

Not much distinguishes Indian and Pakistani women from each other. We share similar genealogies, and labour under the same masculine patriarchies. We care similarly about our children, our homes, our environments. We are programmed to be peacemakers, each in our own small way and we weep similarly for lives lost. We want literacy, empowerment, liberation from hierarchies that keep us confined in spaces and prevent the full flowering of our talents as capable, gifted, human beings.

This cannot be a relationship that has nuclear weapons at its core. Neither can it just be about victimhood: Indians as victims of cross-border terror or Pakistanis as victims of perceived Indian arrogance or inflexibility. It is about our future, and whether we wish to sentence ourselves to the nightmare we have made our own because win-win is not a concept we understand. Through it all, there is the festering problem of Kashmir — Kashmir, the incomparable, the Valley that embodies the crucible of our opacity and rigidity (in both India and Pakistan), of sorrow, of alienation.

South Asian Commons

A feminist foreign policy would embrace the idea of a South Asian Commons; it would speak and act in favour not of ravishing disunities, but of rationalising unities, of merging capacities to build, to develop, to link. It would exercise vetoes to block war, not peace; it would emphasise the right to food, the right to health, the right to knowledge and learning, the right to reject the disconnects, the worn clichés and mental barriers that divide us. It would weigh the interests of humanitarianism against the interests of power with far greater precision and wisdom. It would say no to violence, against all, but particularly crimes against women and children. It would reject the voices of the far right and the far left. It would feel the true pulse of the unknown, the marginalised, the excluded.

People-Centred Approach

It would have a people-centred approach (on both sides of the divide across the LoC) to healing the wounds in Kashmir. It would promote business-to-business engagement, building the infrastructure for trade, removing non-tariff barriers, facilitating commerce, understanding the economics of proximity rather than promoting proximity as a peril. Rather, promote these possibilities as assets that can alter the narrative of the past, and realise the prospects of peace that have hitherto been so elusive. That is the killer app that the India-Pakistan relationship must possess today.

Cynical, public trials conducted in the Indian or Pakistani media do not provide the answer. We need sense and sensibility, not pride and prejudice, in relations between India and Pakistan. Yet another feminine voice of our region, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, once said to a global audience: “Let us sweat in peace, not bleed in war”. Learning the art of mutual accommodation in solving the problems that have kept us in this state of hostility and mutual enmity is not a loss of manhood. It may just signal the dawn of a truly feminist region.


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