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Expansionist nature of India through the annexation of Sikim

Annexation means the action of occupying something, especially territory. It is the political process of changing from condition of of land from the control of one entity to another. It is also the internalisation of unclaimed land into a state’s sovereignty, which is in most cases legitimate. In international law it is the forceful handover of one state’s territory by another state1 or the legal process by which a city acquires land.2 Usually, it is implied that the region and population being annexed is the smaller, more peripheral, and less powerful of the two merging entities, barring spatial size. It can also suggest a definitive range of repression, expansionism or unilateralism on the part of the stronger of the merging land entities. 

Annexation of Sikim was an important event in the history of Indian Sub-continent. It was the culmination of decades of uncertainty for the kingdom, which survived as an independent state throughout the British Raj period but faced tensions with a newly independent India. Finally On 16 May 1975, Sikkim became the 22nd state of the Indian Union.

International Politics of that Time was in heavy turmoil. During the run-up to the takeover, dramatic changes were happening on the Cold War front. The Sino-Soviet relations had collapsed a few years before, shaking the communist world. In 1972, Nixon-Mao Tse-tung meeting shook the rest of the world. After a humiliating defeat, Americans were busy completing their final withdrawal from Vietnam. In those heady days of India-Soviet friendship, the hand of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was seen behind everything that worried the despotic brute Indira Gandhi. No wonder the Chogyal and his American wife were routinely painted in official circles as playing the CIA’s or Beijing’s games. But Duff quotes a large number of British and US government records to argue convincingly that Sikkim did not figure much in diplomatic policies of Washington, Moscow, London or Beijing. Big powers were too busy with bigger issues to bother much about a small kingdom tucked away in remote Himalaya.3

In the intervening period of time in New Delhi, despotic Indira Gandhi was going from powerful to powerful, and India was showing its powers. The 1971 Bangladesh war and the atomic test in 1974 gave Delhi the confidence to take care of Sikkim once and for all. Mrs. Indira was worried that Sikkim may try to achieve independent tendencies and try to get the membership of United Nation like Bhutan did in 1971. As Indian national congress is the dictatorial party and Indira was very much anti-democratic in power, she showed harsh conducts to the three Himalayan kingdom’s, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal, getting too close with each other. The Chogyal took part King Birendra’s the ceremony of crowning in Kathmandu in 1975 and mixed socially, with the Pakistanis and the Chinese, and there was a lobby in Delhi that felt Sikkim may get Chinese help to become independent.4

In his book on the Indian intelligence agency, Inside RAW, The story of India’s secret service, Ashok Raina writes that New Delhi had taken the decision to annex Sikkim in 1971, and that the RAW used the next two years to create the right conditions within Sikkim to make that happen.4

The background of the history of the Annexation of Sikim was may attract our attention. In 1947, when India became independent, a popular vote rejected Sikkim’s joining the Indian Union, although a pact was made between India and Sikkim in 1950, in the interest of anti-democratic dictator Jawaharlal Nehru. That Indo-Sikkim pact presented Sikkim as a state that is controlled and protected by India. Sikkim came under the suzerainty of India, which monitored and controlled its external affairs, defence, diplomacy and communications, but Sikkim otherwise maintained administrative autonomy.

A state council was set up in 1955 to make allowance for constitutional government under the Sikkimese monarch called the Chogyal. In the meantime, trouble was brewing in the state after the Sikkim National Congress claimed new elections and greater representation for the Nepalese. In 1967 India and China went to war in Sikkim, Cho La incident  where a Chinese occupation was attempted and repulsed. Nathu La and Cho La incidents of India and China also increased the tension in those areas.

Tumults were happening in the frontwards of the palace led to a formal request for protection from India In 1973. The Chogyal was proving to be extremely unpopular with the common citizen.

The Prime Minister of Sikkim requested to the Indian Parliament for Sikkim to become a state of India In 1975. In April of that year, the Indian Army took over the city of Gangtok and disarmed and arrested the Chogyal’s royal palace safeguards. After that time, a referendum was held in which 97.5 per cent of voters (59% of the people entitled to vote) supported formally put an end to the monarchy, practically approving union with expansionist India. On 16 May 1975, Sikkim became the 22nd state of the Indian Union, and the monarchy was withered away.To enable the incorporation of the new state, the Indian Parliament amended the Indian Constitution. First, the 35th Amendment placed a set of agreements that made Sikkim an “Associate State”, an exceptional epithet not used by any other state. Later, the 36th Amendment repealed the 35th Amendment, and made Sikkim a full state, adding its name to the First Schedule of the Constitution.6

In 1975, Sikkim had become an Indian state, and this state was not acknowledged by China. China acknowledged Sikkim as an Indian state In 2003, on condition that India recognize that the Tibet Autonomous Region.7 This mutual agreement led to a thaw in Sino-Indian relations.8

References:

  1. Hofmann, Rainer (February 2013). “Annexation”.Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law. Oxford University Press.
  2. Rabin, Jack (2003).Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy: A-J. CRC Press. pp. 47–48.ISBN 9780824709464. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  3. http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150710/jsp/opinion/story_30616.jsp
  4. Sudheer Sharma, 25 years after Sikim, http://nepalitimes.com/news.php?id=9621#.V-44I_TP_IU
  5. “About Sikkim”. Official website of the Government of Sikkim. Retrieved15 June 2009.
  6. “Constitution has been amended 94 times”.Times of India. 15 May 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  7. Aspects of India’s International Relations, 1700 to 2000: South Asia and the World. Pearson. p. 87.
  8. Baruah, Amit (12 April 2005). “China backs India’s bid for U.N. Council seat”. The Hindu. Retrieved 17 March 2009. The essay was presented in a class on 30 September, 2016 in a general class.

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