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
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.
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