Historical Landmark of Indian Foreign Policy

  #Nehruvian Era 


Panchsheel Pact or Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence are a series of principles that have formed the basis of the relationship between India and China. The Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence are:

• Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
• Mutual non-aggression
• Mutual non-interference
• Equality and mutual benefit
• Peaceful co-existence

This agreement was signed by then Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Chinese premier Zhou Enlai on 29 April 1954.

Panchsheel principles resonated with India’s aspiration as India wanted to preserve her independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity. India focussed on establishing relations with other countries as equal footing and get protection from external invasions. In China, India saw an equal partner and reliable neighbour. India was one of the first countries to recognize China’s communist government; India not only supported the UNSC permanent seat for China but also invited China to take part in Bandung Conference.

Relevance of Panchsheel in present day global politics

Panchsheel is a framework of basic tenets of engagement between the two sovereign countries and withstands the test of the time..It is equally relevant for all times. So it is no surprise that first Asia-Africa conference at Bandung, Indonesia in 1955 adopted these principles.

The five principles of New Panchsheel as articulated by Dr. Manmohan Singh are as follows:

  • India’s development priorities will determine the engagements with the world.
  • Greater role at the global level for regional cooperation and connectivity
  • India’s secular, plural and liberal democracy should inspire the world.
  • India’s now and future are linked to global economy.
  • India will create beneficial global economic and security structure for itself by engaging with major powers.

2)Non – Alignment Movement


After winning freedom from the colonisers, leaders of Asian and African countries consciously responded to the new international developments which were characterised by the bitter cold war, competitive bloc politics, strategies of military alliances and neo-colonialism. However, it was in the context of cold war politics that non-alignment was proclaimed as an alternative to big power rivalry and competition. The newly emerging Afro-Asian nations were categorised as third world countries which were either developing or underdeveloped, , found they had a common interest in peace and disarmament. They considered peace and disarmament extremely essential for their economic development and nation building. It was rightly perceived that any involvement in the arms race and bloc competition would have perpetuated underdevelopment, and the foremost task of national reconstruction would have suffered a, set back.

Nehru’s contribution

The essence of non-alignment – steering clear of the two power blocs, judging each issue on merit and maximising one’s options by maintaining good relations with both the super Powers – was dear from Nehru’s words as well as deeds. . Nehru further emphasised that non-alignment was not to be misunderstood as “neutralism” as was being done by United States.. He Pointed out sharply that whereas neutralism was a passive concept, non-alignment was a “positive and dynamic one” In a speech delivered in the United States, Nehru declared that “where aggression takes place or freedom is threatened, India cannot and shall not be be neutral“.Almost instantly his doctrine was accepted and adopted by all other countries which were emerging from the bane of colonialism to the boon of freedom.

Bandung Conference, 1955

The Bandung Conference was a meeting of Asian and African states, which took place on April 18–24, 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia.. The conference was organised by Indonesia, Burma, Pakistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and India. The conference’s stated aims were to promote Afro-Asian economic and cultural cooperation and to oppose colonialism or neo-colonialism by any nation. The conference was an important step toward the Non-Aligned Movement. However, NAM was formally launched at Belgrade Conference, 1961.

Belgrade Conference (1961)

Non-alignment was formally launched at the Belgrade conference in 1961..

Newly born Countries of Asia and Africa rightly visualised the dangers to their hard won independence in aligning with either of the two. blocs. The only way to conserve their scarce natural and capital resources for reconstructing their backward economies lay in maintaining a distance from super Power rivalry and the Cold war.

The founding fathers of the Non-Aligned Movement were: Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Sukarno of Indonesia, Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. Their actions were known as ‘The Initiative of Five‘.


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