International Relations

The Gujral Foreign Policy Doctrine and Its Importance

November 30 commemorates the 11th death anniversary of India’s 12th Prime Minister, IK Gujral.

  • Date: November 30 commemorates the 11th death anniversary of India’s 12th Prime Minister, IK Gujral.
  • Gujral’s stint as Prime Minister lasted less than a year, which is often overlooked in debates about India’s leaders.
  • His most notable contribution is the ‘Gujral Doctrine,’ a different foreign policy strategy named after him.

Understanding the Gujral Doctrine Background: 

  • Gujral served as External Affairs Minister twice before becoming Prime Minister, during which time he developed his foreign policy stance.
  • Five Fundamentals: The doctrine, as outlined in a speech at Chatham House in London, emphasised non-reciprocity in relations with neighbours such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka, non-use of territory against one another, non-interference in internal affairs, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and peaceful bilateral negotiations for dispute resolution.
  • Notably, Pakistan was not listed in the list of nations with non-reciprocal relations.
  • The ideology was predicated on utilising India’s strength and influence in South East Asia with a non-dominant approach and continual communication, including with Pakistan.

Gujral Doctrine’s Successes

  • Increasing Regional Trust: The ideology increased trust and cooperation among India’s neighbours.
  • Key accomplishments: Notable achievements include the negotiation of a 30-year water pact with Bangladesh and improved ties with Bhutan and Nepal.
  • Legacy: Despite various political beliefs, successive Prime Ministers followed components of this theory.

Limitations and Criticism

  • Gujral was chastised for being perceived as excessively soft, particularly towards Pakistan, perhaps leaving India exposed to future attacks.
  • Pakistani perception: Some Pakistanis see the concept as an Indian ploy to isolate Islamabad.

Background on Gujral’s Personal Influence on Doctrine: 

  • Gujral, who was born in undivided Punjab and took part in the liberation fight, was noted for his civility and strength in politics.
  • During an emergency, take the following stance: He reportedly defied Sanjay Gandhi’s directives to muzzle the press as Information Minister.
  • Gujral’s stance on international relations was forthright, particularly in his criticism of Britain’s offer to intervene over Kashmir.

India’s Foreign Policy Legacy

  • Gujral’s approach had a long-lasting impact on India’s foreign policy, notably in its dealings with neighbouring nations.
  • His theory is renowned for making an important contribution to India’s diplomatic policy, showing his knowledge of regional dynamics and India’s role in South East Asia.

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