A three-day online certificate training course on India’s G20 Presidency and Contours of Indian Foreign Policy was organized by #IMPRI Centre for International Relation and Strategic Studies (CIRSS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi from 14th to 16th March 2023. The second session of day 2 of a three-day immersive online certificate course on India’s G20 Presidency and Contours of Indian Foreign Policy was conducted by Ms Nandita Baruah, Country Representative-India, The Asia Foundation. The subject for this session was Feminist Foreign Policy.
The second speaker of the day was Ms Nandita Baruah, Representative for India at the Asia Foundation, who delivered a thought-provoking speech reflecting on India’s significant role in the global arena as it assumed the prestigious presidency of the G20. With grace and eloquence, Ms Nandita Baruah expounded on the Prime Minister’s visionary emphasis on “one Earth, one family, one future” and the paramount importance of fostering equitable growth and a shared future for all nations.
Despite the honourable position India held, Ms Baruah acknowledged that the nation’s presidency came at a time of immense challenges, with several global crises demanding urgent attention. One such crisis was the escalating conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which had far-reaching implications for international peace and security. Additionally, there was a growing polarization between developed and developing nations, further complicating the path towards collective progress and prosperity.
Amidst the formidable challenges confronting the international community, Ms Baruah, in her compelling address, underscored the imperative for India to navigate these turbulent waters with unwavering determination while upholding its unwavering commitment to achieving equitable growth and fostering a shared future. With conviction and passion, she articulated the dire consequences that conflicts and crises inflict upon vulnerable populations, emphasizing the urgent need to address humanitarian issues and ensure inclusivity and diversity in all global dialogues and decision-making processes.
She further highlighted the pressing need for a redefined multilateralism that could effectively tackle a broad spectrum of issues spanning various sectors, including healthcare, education, and climate change. Central to this redefined approach was the principle of promoting equity and inclusivity as its foundation. In pursuit of this goal, she advocated for a feminist foreign policy that proactively incorporated the perspectives and interests of marginalized communities, with a specific focus on global health, structural improvements, and the equitable distribution of support and resources.
Ms Baruah’s visionary approach emphasized the transformative potential of such a redefined multilateralism. By advocating for a holistic framework that transcends traditional boundaries and prioritizes the inclusion of marginalized voices, she sought to address systemic inequalities and ensure that no one is left behind in the pursuit of a better future. Her call for a feminist foreign policy resonated with the urgent need to rectify historical imbalances and create a more just and equitable global order.
Furthermore, she stressed the importance of approaching global challenges with a long-term perspective, recognizing that sustainable solutions require a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between social, economic, and environmental factors. She emphasized the need for collaborative efforts and partnerships that foster innovation, knowledge-sharing, and capacity-building to tackle complex issues effectively.
As she delved deeper into the concept of feminist foreign policy, Ms Baruah demonstrated its broad applicability and far-reaching implications. She highlighted that equity and inclusion should remain central pillars of India’s discourse, even amidst the prevailing challenges of global polarization and conflicts. To ensure meaningful change, she argued that the voices of marginalized communities must be elevated to the forefront of all global discussions and decision-making processes. Furthermore, Ms Nandita Baruah urged for the reformation of existing multilateral institutions to be more inclusive and responsive to the needs of the marginalized, thus paving the way for a brighter and more equitable future.
An essential aspect of Ms Baruah’s address focused on structured peace and the equitable distribution of support, especially concerning medical aid and services. She passionately advocated for increased investment in frontline service providers, such as doctors and caregivers, both on a global scale and within individual nations. Recognizing the pivotal role played by these providers in reaching remote populations and tackling challenges like pandemics, Ms Baruah asserted that multilateral agencies must unite and collaborate to establish last-mile connectivity through both human efforts and structural means, leaving no one behind.
Expanding on the idea of a feminist foreign policy, Ms Nandita articulated its significance across diverse sectors, not just limited to traditional soft issues but also encompassing critical areas like healthcare and disaster risk reduction. She eloquently presented the case that a gender-responsive approach was indispensable for achieving equitable and sustainable development. By addressing deeply entrenched patriarchal norms and power dynamics, she emphasized the transformative potential of creating a more equitable world, wherein hierarchies were harnessed to promote equity rather than perpetuate inequity.
In this context, Ms Baruah underscored India’s unique opportunity to lead the charge in defining and promoting a feminist foreign policy, thereby challenging the inequitable framing perpetuated by the global North and bridging the divisions that persist worldwide. By adopting this forward-thinking approach, India could position itself as a beacon of hope and progress, steering the world towards a future characterized by equity, inclusivity, and shared prosperity.
In summary, Ms Nandita Baruah’s remarkable speech highlighted India’s crucial role as it assumed the presidency of the G20. She eloquently emphasized the need for equitable growth, a shared future, and the imperative of navigating global challenges while staying true to India’s vision. By championing a feminist foreign policy and striving for a redefined multilateralism rooted in equity and inclusion, India had a golden opportunity to lead the world towards a more equitable and inclusive future, fostering unity and bridging global divisions.
Mahek is a Research Intern at IMPRI.
Read more session reports from Day 2 of India’s G20 Presidency and Contours of Indian Foreign Policy: