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ForumIAS™ Featured: Gujaral Doctrine Explained

edited March 2013 in Featured
Hello friends,

I would like to share, from my notes, and elsewhere, on the famous Gujaral Doctrine. Please note that it may not be important for Prelims, but is important for Mains, and essential to know for the Interview. I shall discuss this in a 5 part write-up:-

1. What is the Gujaral Doctrine?
2. Who coined the term Gujaral Doctine?
3. What are the principles of Gujaral Doctrine?
4. What was the need/benefits for Gujaral Doctrine?
5. Criticism of Gujaral Doctrine.

1. Who is the Gujaral Doctrine?

The Gujral Doctrine is a set of five principles to guide the conduct of foreign relations with India’s immediate neighbours. It was founded on India's accommodating approach towards its neighbors based on the principle of non-reciprocity

2. What coined the term Gujaral Doctine?

The doctrine was adopted by India's 12 th Prime Minister, Shri I K Gujaral, who headed the United Front govt. in 1997-1998.

The doctrine was called as the "Gujaral Doctrine by" Bhabani Sen Gupta in his article, India in the Twenty First Century in International Affairs.

3. What are the principles of Gujaral Doctrine?
There are 5 principles enunciated in the Gujaral Doctrine:-
1. India should not seek reciprocity while giving concessions to the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Sril Lanka.
2. None of the South Asian Countries shall permit its territory being used against the interest of another country of the region.
3. No country should interfere in the internal affairs of another.
4. All South Asian countries must respect each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
5. All disputes between the countries shall be resolved through peaceful bilateral negotiations.

4. What was the need/benefits for Gujaral Doctrine?

Gujaral wrote in his memoirs that the logic behind the Gujral Doctrine was that since we had to face two hostile neighbours in the north and the west, we had to be at ‘total peace’ with all other immediate neighbours in order to contain Pakistan’s and China’s influence in the region.
As a larger country, we will not be expecting reciprocity from smaller neighbours.

It is under this doctrine, that India gives disproportionate aid/ diplomatic manoeuvring space to Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, etc. (such as lowering tariff and trade barriers, Line of Credit, without expecting too much in return.)

5. Criticism of Gujaral Doctrine
1. Pakistan did not feature in the list of countries Gujral identified in his speech for non-reciprocal treatment. A perceptive analyst of south Asian politics, A. G. Noorani, held such measures as ‘cosmetic’ and ‘deceptive’ and argued that Gujral doctrine excluded Pakistan and was thus not a wholehearted effort to generate trust with all the neighbours.

2. Some analysts held that Gujral was unable to bring about any change primarily because of his inability to “convert the foreign policy bureaucracy” firmly wedded to the principles of security, national interests and major power status at the global level, “to the basic art of friendliness”.

[Note: You can download my write up on Gujaral Doctrine from below]
ForumIAS™ Featured_ Gujaral Doctrine Explained.pdf
[Internationa Relations & Foreign Affairs] | [View my posts here ] | [No PMs please]


  • edited March 2013
    Thank you for this pure awesomeness :-)
    I have a query. I just read about the Gujaral doctrine for the interview (yes, as you said, its important).

    What you have said above is in sync with what I know and what I read in books. However, there is this awesome website which has probably gotten it all wrong.


    Is it actually wrong therein, or can it be one of the interpretations? Please throw some light on this, other members, @slyth123.
    DPS R K Puram | Manipal | Microsoft | PMRDF | Founder, ForumIAS.com
  • Few observations.
    Seemed like Mr. Noorani's criticism lacked substance. The Gujral doctrine was itself fromulated to contain the neighbors in the north & west, & Pak is a neighbor in the west. Did he miss that?

    The 2nd criticism needs an attitudinal change form more than 1 actor, so difficult to be resolved I believe.

    A comparision needed.
    Could have been compared & contrasted with Panchasheel by Nehru, the times they were proposed in & the changed/changing scenarios.

    Comments and Explns are welcome. Tia. :)
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