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Gujral Doctrine: Guiding India's Diplomacy in South Asia



  Dec 01, 2023

Gujral Doctrine: A Framework for Regional Diplomacy



Remembering I.K. Gujral: Celebrating the 104th Birth Anniversary of India's 12th Prime Minister

The Gujral Doctrine is a set of five principles formulated by Inder Kumar Gujral, former Prime Minister of India, to guide India's approach towards its neighbors, especially in South Asia. This diplomatic policy was particularly significant in the mid-1990s.

Key Principles of the Gujral Doctrine:

1. Non-Reciprocal Basis: India, being the largest country in the region, would not expect reciprocity from its smaller neighbors in terms of diplomatic gestures. Instead, it would offer unilateral concessions and cooperation.

2. No Interference: India would respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of its neighboring countries and would not interfere in their internal matters.

3. Mutual Respect: The doctrine emphasized mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

4. Peaceful Settlement: It encouraged peaceful settlement of regional disputes and promoted the use of diplomacy to resolve conflicts.

5. Economic Cooperation: The doctrine aimed to increase economic cooperation and connectivity in the region, fostering regional integration.

Significance and Impact:

Regional Relationships: It was seen as a move to improve strained relationships with neighboring countries and to establish a more cooperative regional environment.

Building Trust: By offering unilateral concessions, India aimed to build trust among its smaller neighbors and reduce regional tensions.

Focus on SAARC: The doctrine placed importance on the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as a platform for regional integration.

Criticism:

The Gujral Doctrine faced criticism for potentially compromising India's strategic and security interests, with some arguing that the policy of non-reciprocity might not always be beneficial for India.

Overall, the Gujral Doctrine represented a significant shift in India's foreign policy, particularly in its approach to handling relations with its immediate neighbors. It emphasized the role of diplomacy and cooperation over contentious and reciprocal strategies.


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