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Panchsheel Principles


These principles are good not only to our two countries but for others as well...each country would have freedom to follow its own policy and work out its own destiny learning from others, cooperating with others, but basing itself essentially on its own genius.” (Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, speaking at banquet held in honour of Premier Zhou Enlai in New Delhi on June 26, 1954)

Panchsheel, or the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, were first formally enunciated in the Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet region of China and India signed on April 29, 1954, which stated, in its preamble, that the two Governments “have resolved to enter into the present Agreement based on the following principles: -

  1. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,

  2. Mutual non-aggression,

  3. Mutual non-interference,

  4. Equality and mutual benefit, and

  5. Peaceful co-existence.”


Panchsheel was born in sin,' said Congress veteran K R Kripalani. Having watched demurely the occupation of Tibet by China, India had, through this agreement, put its stamp of approval on the occupation. By 1954, India and China signed the historic Panchsheel Agreement with the slogan "Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai”. It took not even a decade for China to turn bitter against India. The memories of 1962 are a good lesson to go back to, there’s a need for pragmatism, not idealism.

China had benefited more from the concept than India. In the two countries' foreign policies, there were two different interpretations of Panchsheel, two different conceptions of its usefulness, and two different ideational ideals. Panchsheel did not work for India on a functional level: the Tibet question was resolved for China, but the issue of a peaceful border was not resolved for India.


Panchsheel's ageless relevance stems from its deep roots in the cultural traditions of its originators, two of the world's oldest civilisations. The historical foundation for the establishment of Panchsheel principles by India and China was provided by the advent of Buddhism in China.

The Panchsheel principles are universal in nature; they were applicable even before their principled conceptualisation and would continue to be relevant in the future. These universal principles will never become obsolete, as they highlight fundamental concepts that are given primacy. Every state aspires for sovereignty and territoriality.

It is in no spirit of pride or arrogance that we pursue our own independent policy. We would not do otherwise unless we are false to everything India has stood for in the past and stands for today. We welcome association and friendship with all and the flow of thought and ideas of all kind, but we reserve the right to choose our own path. That is the essence of Panchsheel.”(Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, speaking in the Lok Sabha, September 15, 1955)


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