Gujral Doctrine - Inder Kumar Gujral

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Feb 22, 2023, 13:55

The Gujral Doctrine is a set of five principles developed by Inder Kumar Gujral during his term as the External Affairs Minister in 1996 to steer the diplomatic relations of India with its neighbours.

It encourages South Asian countries, adjacent regions, and individual members to work together to provide shared, equal, and cooperative security to maintain peace and stability in South Asia.

Five Principles of the Gujral Doctrine

  1. India will not demand reciprocity from its neighbours, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, but rather gives and accommodates what it can in good faith and confidence.
  2. No South Asian government should permit the use of its territory to the disadvantage of a neighbouring country.
  3. No country should intrude in the domestic matters of another.
  4. South Asian countries must all respect each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
  5. They should settle all of their disagreements through sensible bilateral negotiations.

Gujral Doctrine as a Reconstruction of Panchsheel

There are similarities between the doctrine and Panchsheel or the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (found in in the preamble of the Sino-Indian Agreement, 1954):

  • The second principle of the Gujral Doctrine is similar to the second principle of Panchsheel, i.e., mutual non-aggression.
  • The third principle of Gujral Doctrine corresponds to the third principle of Panchsheel, i.e., mutual non-interference.
  • The fourth principle of the Gujral Doctrine closely relates to the first principle of Panchsheel, i.e., mutual respect for each other's sovereignty.
  • The last principle of the Gujral Doctrine is the manifestation of the fourth and fifth principles of Panchsheel, i.e., equality, mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.
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Achievements of the Gujral Doctrine

The Gujral Doctrine has reduced tensions and problems between India and its neighbours for the first time in 50 years. It is known for its diplomatic thrusts that are action-oriented. Some of its achievements are:

  • It paved the way for a contract with Nepal for damming the Mahakali river for hydropower generation.
  • It resolved the water-sharing conflict with Bangladesh in 1996-1997.
  • It led to agreements to deepen development cooperation with Sri Lanka.
  • It saw some unilateral Indian steps to break the long-running impasse in Indo-Pakistan relations.
  • Dhaka began to open up access to North-Eastern regions, and cooperative industrial projects in Meghalaya were quickly approved and implemented.
  • India granted Nepal permission to use a 60-kilometre corridor to export goods to Bangladesh and ASEAN via the port of Chittagong.
  • Bhutan chose to build a canal connecting the Ganga to the Santokh river, which flows nearby via Bhutanese territory, to replenish the water supply of the Ganges.

26/11 and the Gujral Doctrine

During his stint as Prime Minister, I.K. Gujral decided to end undercover RAW operations in Pakistan. India also revealed details about RAW assets in Pakistan. According to some, this pushed Pakistani intelligence to use extrajudicial tactics to eliminate RAW assets.

Some criticized the doctrine in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, for firmly believing in the "inherent goodwill" of overtly hostile neighbours. This is still viewed as one of India's major intelligence failures.

The Gujral Doctrine is a set of five principles that once guided India's foreign policy towards its neighbours. It acknowledges the need for courteous, amicable interactions with the countries in South Asia.

Narendra Modi instituted the Neighbourhood First Policy in 2014 to strengthen ties with immediate neighbours but India's relations with its neighbours are not as strong as they ought to be. In this regard, the Gujral Doctrine can bestow the region with peace and prosperity.

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FAQs on Gujral Doctrine

Q.1. What major developments did Gujral Doctrine bring in India-Pakistan Relationship?

Soon after implementing the Gujral Doctrine, bilateral trade saw a considerable boost. Pakistan acquired colossal quantities of Indian wheat and sugar, whereas India purchased a significant amount of Pakistani cotton. Moreover, India and Pakistan collaborated closely on WTO problems raised at the 1996 WTO summit in Singapore.

Q.2. What is the aim of the Gujral Doctrine?

Gujral Doctrine aims to create a peaceful and cooperative South Asia while encouraging development cooperation with the neighbours in the region.

Q.3. What is Gujral Doctrine?

The Gujral Doctrine is a set of five principles developed by Inder Kumar Gujral diplomatic relations of India with its neighbours as the External Affairs Minister in 1996.

Q.4. How do Chinese policies trump Indian ambitions with the Gujral Doctrine?

The Belt and Road Initiative, joining hands with the debt trap of the Dragon, enhanced China's influence in the region. Moreover, India finds it difficult to catch up with the resources China pumps in to develop its influence in South Asia.

Q.5. Who is Inder Kumar Gujral?

Inder Kumar Gujral was the 12th Prime Minister of India. He made two major contributions to foreign policy - first, he advanced the 'Gujral doctrine' during his tenure as Union Minister of External Affairs; second, Gujral refused to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty despite international pressure.