Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Structuralism and the Indo-Pak Rivalry: Responsible Politico-Economic Factors and Policy Analysis

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Structuralism and the Indo-Pak Rivalry: Responsible Politico-Economic Factors and Policy Analysis

Article excerpt


An approach, which lay emphasis on the structures that motivate human behavior, is structuralism. Fundamental themes of structuralism includes: the core elements of the structure remain considerably analogous, but the relationships between them alter; concepts that appear 'natural' to us, such as masculinity and femininity, are in fact social constructs; and that the individuals, too, are the product of relationships. Thus, individual's actions are dictated by the overall circumstances-structures-in which they operate. These structures are comprised of the rules, conventions, and restraints upon which human behavior is based. For example, within the structure of capitalism, the optimal location for an industry would be at the point of maximum profits.

The theory of structuralism can be elaborated by the twist given to realist international relations theory by Kenneth Waltz. Instability and war were less the result of fraudulent human nature or poorly constituted states than of fluctuating distributions of power across states in an anarchical international system. Earlier realist explanations that had dwelt on the characteristics of individual states and their leaders were dismissed as reductionist.

How does one understand the relationship between two arch-rival neighboring countries such as India and Pakistan? There are two possible ways. Relations can be understood on a case to case basis either through historical processes or thematically. In doing so, it is important to identify the points of convergence and divergence; subsequently explaining them in historical perspective or rationally. A rational approach points to a structural explanation of relations. It is the structure that ascertains the schedule of interests for states. No state can adhere to policies with regard to another state that are incongruent with the logic of the given structure (Rajgopalan & Sani, 2008). Hence the regional balance of power and regional systems must be taken in consideration while formulating relations with other states. The character of such systems influences the strategic policy culture of the pursuing state in a given system. Observing such influences on national policies and their interaction with other state policies develops a structure which determines internal and external factors of foreign policy.

The debate of internal and external factors in foreign policy can be approached a bit more directly by incorporating Kenneth Waltz's views. He contrasts this theory of regional politics from foreign policy theories by arguing that they are different in raison d'etre (Waltz, 1998). A structural theory of regional policies explains why different states behave similarly; while foreign policy theory reasons out why similar placed states behave differently. The debate gets heated on the question that how convincing is his theory in practice? One cannot refute the fact that every state is primarily concerned about its own physical survival. Survival remains the distinctive leitmotif of all states (Tellis, 2007). However, states differ on the basis strategy selection and the means of survival. Great regional powers maintain its regional structure by ensuring stability whereas weaker nations balance the structure by acquiring friendship of extra-territorial global nations. Thus a regional structure is intercepted by global actors for the physical security of lesser powers. During the Cold War bipolar system, Pakistan acquired a strategic regional balance in relation to India, a regional power, by drawing the US sponsored anti Communist alliances- South East Asia Treaty organization (SEATO) and Central Treaty organization (CENTO) (Soherwordi, 2010).

Indo-Pak History and Structuralism

The blaze of excitement of partition whimpered to a pervading gloom as structural imbalance between the two parts of the Subcontinent that became India and Pakistan became evident even before the partition. Mountbatten, who was tasked by the British Government to oversee transfer of power to Hindus and Muslims, failed to maintain impartiality. …

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