Sikkim Statehood Day

  • Sikkim Day is observed yearly on May 16 to commemorate Sikkim’s accession to India in 1975.
  • Sikkim joined India almost two decades after Sardar Vallabbhai Patel led the unification of princely states into India.

Sikkim’s Relationship with the Chogyal Royals

  • Phuntsong Namgyal was consecrated as the first ruler or Chogyal of Sikkim in 1642, establishing the kingdom of Sikkim.
  • The Namgyal dynasty ruled Sikkim for 333 years till its independence from India in 1975.
  • Sikkim was a Tibetan state located between India and China. It frequently had territorial disputes with Bhutan and Nepal.
  • The British considered Sikkim as a buffer state and formalised relations with it.
  • The Treaty of Tumlong (1861), Treaty of Titaliya (1817), Calcutta Convention (1890), and Lhasa Convention (1904) influenced Sikkim’s relationship with the British.

Sikkim and independent India

  • Following India’s independence, princely kingdoms had the option of joining either India or Pakistan.
  • Sikkim’s distinct relationship with British rule complicated its unification into India.
  • Sardar Vallabbhai Patel and BN Rau desired that Sikkim sign the Instrument of Accession to India.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru recognised the situation in Sikkim and emphasised the state’s autonomy.
  • The Sikkim State Congress (SSC), Praja Mandal (PM), and Praja Sudharak Samaj (PSS) called for a popular democracy, the abolition of landlordism, and the state’s accession to India.
  • A Standstill Agreement was struck to keep the current system in place while discussions continued.

Conflict with China

  • Sikkim had a state council comprised of elected and nominated officials.
  • Political developments in the 1960s and 1970s influenced Sikkim’s standing.
  • The foundation of the Sikkim National Congress (SNC) in 1960, as well as changes in political leadership on both sides, had an impact on the course of events.
  • The 1962 India-China war and the control of border skirmishes made it critical to explain India’s relationship with Sikkim.

How did Sikkim finally become a part of India?

  • The Indian government began to back pro-democracy elements in Sikkim, such as SNC leader Kazi Dorji.
  • In 1973, protests in Sikkim resulted in a three-way agreement between the Chogyal, the Indian government, and three main political groups.
  • In 1974, elections were held, and a new constitution reduced the monarch’s position.
  • In 1975, a referendum resulted in a majority vote in favour of joining India.
  • The Constitution (Thirty-Sixth Amendment) Bill was enacted, officially admitting Sikkim to the Union of India.
  • Sikkim’s new parliament proposed a measure to become an Indian state, which the Indian government approved.
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