North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

In news: Sikkim Statehood Day


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Merger of Sikkim

Mains level: Not Much


Sikkim Statehood Day

  • Sikkim day is annually celebrated on May 16, commemorating the integration of Sikkim with India in 1975.
  • The process of Sikkim joining India occurred about two decades after Sardar Vallabbhai Patel led the integration of princely states into India.

Sikkim’s History with the Chogyal Royals

  • The kingdom of Sikkim was established in 1642 when Phuntsong Namgyal was consecrated as the first ruler or Chogyal.
  • Sikkim’s monarchy, under the Namgyal dynasty, lasted for 333 years until its integration with India in 1975.
  • Sikkim had a Tibetan origin and was located between India and China. It often faced conflicts over land with Bhutan and Nepal.
  • The British saw Sikkim as a buffer state and established a formal relationship with it.
  • Various treaties like the Treaty of Tumlong (1861), Treaty of Titaliya (1817), Calcutta Convention (1890), and Lhasa Convention (1904) shaped the relationship between Sikkim and the British.

Independent India and Sikkim

  • After India’s independence, princely states had the option to accede to India or Pakistan.
  • Sikkim’s unique relationship with British rule led to complexities in its integration with India.
  • Sardar Vallabbhai Patel and BN Rau wanted Sikkim to sign the Instrument of Accession to integrate it with India.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru acknowledged the situation in Sikkim and emphasized its autonomous growth.
  • Sikkim State Congress (SSC), Praja Mandal (PM), and Praja Sudharak Samaj (PSS) demanded a popular government, abolition of landlordism, and accession to India.
  • A Standstill Agreement was signed to maintain the existing arrangement while discussions continued.

War with China

  • Sikkim had a state council with elected and nominated members.
  • Political developments in the 1960s and 1970s played a significant role in Sikkim’s status.
  • The formation of the Sikkim National Congress (SNC) in 1960 and changes in political leadership on both sides influenced the course of events.
  • India-China war of 1962 and containment of border skirmishes made it important to clarify the relationship between India and Sikkim.

How Sikkim finally joined India?

  • The Indian leadership started supporting pro-democracy forces in Sikkim, such as Kazi Dorji of the SNC.
  • Protests in Sikkim in 1973 led to a tripartite agreement between the Chogyal, the Indian government, and three major political parties.
  • Elections were held in 1974, and a new constitution limited the role of the monarch.
  • A referendum held in 1975 resulted in a majority vote in favor of joining India.
  • The Constitution (Thirty-Sixth Amendment) Bill was passed, recognizing Sikkim as a state in the Union of India.
  • Sikkim’s new parliament proposed a bill for Sikkim to become an Indian state, which was accepted by the Indian government.


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