The Leaderboard: I.K. Gujral

Who was he?

Inder Kumar Gujral, former Prime Minister of India, passed away on November 30th at the age of 92. Born in what is now Pakistan,  Gujral was known for his extensive service to India, having actively participated in India’s struggle for independence, thereafter serving as a politician, statesman, and diplomat, most notably as prime minister from April 1997 to March 1998.

Gujral had joined the Congress Party after independence, but fell out of favor with the party when he refused to censor radio broadcasts during the state of emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975. He was widely admired and respected for his dedication to his country and his unbreakable moral fiber, as his character was never called into question during his career.

I.K. Gujral former Prime Minister of India. Source: Wikimedia Commons, used under a creative commons license.

What is Gujral’s Legacy ?

Although Gujral’s tenure as prime minister only lasted for 11 months—due to an unstable and eventually crumbling coalition government—he had a lasting impact on Indian foreign policy and regional affairs many years after leaving public service.

Gujral’s foreign policy stance, labeled the “Gujral Doctrine,” emphasized the need for a magnanimous approach by India toward its neighbors—with India being willing to take the first step toward bettering relations, including with Pakistan. He was committed to the peaceful resolution of all bilateral disputes.  This policy resonated for many years following his retirement, as many Indian statesmen credit the Gujral Doctrine for considerably improving India’s relations with its neighbors, small and large.

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