I.K. Gujral, former prime minister of India, dies at 92

Ajit Kumar/AP - Kumar Gujral, who gave a new impetus to improving India's relations with its neighbors during a term in office that lasted less than a year, died Friday Nov. 30, 2012 after a yearlong illness. He was 92.

I.K. Gujral, who as India’s prime minister gave a new impetus to improving India’s relations with its neighbors during a term that lasted less than a year, died Nov. 30 at a hospital near New Delhi. He was 92.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde confirmed the death and said the cause was a lung infection.

Mr. Gujral joined India’s freedom movement in the early 1940s and was imprisoned in 1942 for opposing British colonial rule.

He spent many years in the Congress party and was a minister in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet. Later, he was India’s ambassador to what was then the Soviet Union. Mr. Gujral quit the Congress party in the mid-1980s to join the Janata Dal party.

Mr. Gujral became India’s 12th prime minister at the head of a shaky coalition government in 1997.

Although his term lasted only 11 months, Mr. Gujral made a mark in foreign relations by promoting friendly ties with the country’s neighbors, including archrival Pakistan.

Popularly referred to as the “Gujral Doctrine,” the policy was one of generosity in trade and other bilateral relations without expecting reciprocity from India’s smaller neighbors.

Inder Kumar Gujral was born Dec. 4, 1919, in what is now Jhelum, Pakistan. He attended Hailey College in Lahore and was elected president of its student union. After partition in 1947, the Gujrals were forced from their home in what became Pakistan.

His wife, the poet Shiela Gujral, died last year. They had three sons.