Opinion – India’s Panchsheel

It has been 60 years since India had signed the Panchsheel officially in 1954 and last year an Indian delegation headed by Vice-President Hamid Ansari went to China to celebrate its 60th Anniversary.

On this occasion we need to take a look at how far has India been successful in adhering to the policy of Panchsheel and its relevance in the 21st Century.

First, we take a deeper look at those cases where it is alleged that India had violated the Panchsheel and argue that India hasn’t done so in reality.

  1. Tibetan Issue – where it was alleged that India had intervened it China’s internal affairs.
    • The very agreement to which Panchsheel is attached to, which is the “Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet Region of China and India” undoubtedly recognises that Tibet is an integral part of China.
    • All India ever did was to provide asylum to the Tibetan refugees and freedom (not support) to form a government-in-exile on humanitarian and cultural grounds (Buddhism). India does not recognise this government questioning the authority of Chinese government over Tibet in any manner.
  2. East Pakistan/Bangladesh – where it was alleged that emergence of Bangladesh in 1971 was India’s conspiracy against Pakistan.
    • Never did India interfere in East Pakistan’s internal affairs and acted in any way to encourage the separatist ideologies in East Pakistan.
    • The political developments in Pakistan gave rise to the clashes between East Pakistan and West Pakistan, where West Pakistan wanted to maintain her grip over East Pakistan.
    • India had peacefully endured the problem of influx of refugees and provided them what ever aid that India can afford at that point of time.
    • It must also be noted that it was Pakistan that launched the first attack on India, dragging her into the war.
  3. Sri Lanka – war against LTTE.
    • Panchsheel doctrine of “Non-intervention” doesn’t mean turning a blind eye towards the developments in other nations which have an impact on India. It only means not resorting to a unilateral action in the internal affairs of any country.
    • The clashes between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government was a matter of concern because of the Tamil cultural link that the two nations share and the possible over-spill of violence on India.
    • India resorted to Indo-Sri Lankan Accord in 1987 offering aid to Sri Lankan government to restore peace and order in the island nation. All it did was extend a hand of friendship and India did pay a hefty price for the same.
    • It was the “intrusive” nature of the UN Security Council resolution in 2014, which called for an international probe into allegations of the war time crimes that made India abstain from the voting. This is a clear demonstration that India strongly believes in the policy of “non-intervention”.

India’s non-intervention in “Crimean” crisis is one example that India refuses to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. India’s concerns for her neighbours like Nepal and Bhutan by treating them on an equal footing with herself without resorting to any sort of intimidation exemplifies India’s strong commitment to Panchsheel.

No matter what the changing geopolitical demands were, Panchsheel has always been the soul and theme of India’s foreign policy and it will continue to do so.

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2 thoughts on “Opinion – India’s Panchsheel

    • You can find many in the newspapers written by experts. For the time being, I have no intentions of writing opinions on various topics, but instead I want to focus on writing more articles on civil services exam preparation.

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