The Gujral Doctrine, devised by former Indian Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, presents a set of accommodating principles to guide India’s relations with its immediate neighbors.

In the current global context, these principles continue to hold significance as India navigates its interactions with neighboring countries. This doctrine prioritizes non-reciprocity, non-interference, territorial integrity, and peaceful conflict resolution. Examining its relevance in present times reveals its application across various scenarios.

Principles of the Gujral Doctrine:

Non-Reciprocity with Neighbors:

  • India extends cooperation and assistance to its neighbors without demanding strict reciprocity.
  • Example: Providing Nepal with essential goods during its blockade crisis in 2015, showcasing India’s commitment to regional stability.

Non-Use of Territory Against Neighbors:

  • South Asian countries commit to not allowing their territory to be used against regional interests.
  • Example: India refraining from using its territory to threaten Pakistan’s interests, despite past conflicts.

Non-Interference in Internal Affairs:

  • Neighbors pledge not to interfere in each other’s domestic matters, fostering mutual respect.
  • Example: India’s stance of non-interference in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict, allowing the country to manage its internal affairs.

Respect for Territorial Integrity and Sovereignty:

  • All South Asian nations uphold each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
  • Example: India’s recognition of Bangladesh’s sovereignty in resolving the maritime boundary dispute in the Bay of Bengal.

Peaceful Dispute Resolution:

  • Advocates settling disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations, maintaining regional stability.
  • Example: India’s engagement with Bangladesh to resolve the longstanding Teesta River water-sharing issue.

Relevance in Current Circumstances:

  • Addressing Economic Challenges: India can support Sri Lanka, facing a debt crisis due to the ‘String of Pearls’ strategy, by providing assistance without expecting immediate reciprocation.
  • Afghanistan’s Changing Dynamics: India’s approach to the Taliban should evolve to prevent the region from becoming a safe haven for anti-India elements.
  • Strengthening Relations with Bangladesh: Strengthening ties with Bangladesh is crucial as both China and Pakistan seek influence; offering COVID vaccines showcases India’s goodwill.
  • Promoting Positive Perception: Non-interference and respectful behavior can mend relations with Bhutan and Nepal, addressing concerns of India’s dominant stance.
  • Strategic Engagement with Maldives: Nurturing ties with the Maldives is essential to counter China’s increasing influence in the Indian Ocean.
  • Resolving Conflicts through Dialogue: India can apply the doctrine’s principle of peaceful negotiation to address the complex Kashmir issue with Pakistan.

The Gujral Doctrine’s principles continue to guide India’s diplomatic conduct with its neighbors, reflecting a commitment to fostering stable and peaceful regional relations. The doctrine’s relevance remains evident in various contemporary scenarios, from economic cooperation to conflict resolution. As India strives for harmonious coexistence in its neighborhood, the doctrine serves as a steadfast foundation for constructive engagement, echoing its importance from the 1990s to the present day

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish April 27, 2024