Nehru’s foreign policy – Panch Sheel, 1954

Meaning, ‘Panch Sheel’ was first enunciated in the Sino-Indian treaty on Tibet in April 1954. The Sanskrit term Panch Sheel means ‘five codes of conduct‘. It stands for the following five principles.

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

2) Mutual non-aggression

3) Mutual non – interference in each other’s internal affairs.

4) Equality and mutual benefit

5) Peaceful co-existence and economic co-operation.

Guiding star

Panch Sheel was formulated for conducting healthy relations among nations. It was a natural extension of India’s policy of Non-Alignment. Non-alignment along with Panch Sheel formed the sheet anchor of India’s foreign policy. Panch sheel caught the attention of several countries. Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Burma, Laos, Nepal and Combodia were quick to accept it. The Asian Relations Conference held in April 1955 in New Delhi and the first Afro-Asian conference held at Bandung endorsed Panch Sheel. Australia, Austria and Poland came forward to accept it. In 1957, Soviet Premier Khrushchev declared interest in Panch Sheel.


Panch Sheel has been criticized as an idealistic formulation which can work only under ideal conditions; ignores the reality of International relations; an impractical international relations; an apparel of appeasement and so on. India’s perception that China would honour Panch Sheel and stick to mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; and mutual non-aggression proved to be “clutching at straws after the main opportunity had been deliberately discarded”. Nevertheless, the ideology and philosophy behind Panch Sheel, will ever remain un-assailable and the reality of international relations reinforce the need and necessity for the same.

Non-alignment Movement

Badung Conference, 1955

  1. Objectives

           The first Afro -Asian conference was held in April 1955, in the Indonesian capital Badung, in which 29 states participated. The objectives of the conference were to

  1. promote goodwill and co-operation among the Third World Countries
  2. consider social, economic, and cultural problems of the Asian and African people
  3. View the position of Africa and Asia in the world and the contribution they could make to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.
  4. Importance

President Sukarno of the Indonesian Republic host the conference and Nehru, Chou-en-Lai and Nasser of Egypt were some of the dignitaries who actively participated in the conference. Nehru highlighted the relevance and role of Non-alignment in the contemporary world and pointed out that the real strength of the developing countries was in industrial development not for stockpiling weapons of war.

  1. Estimate

Badung conference was a memorable success. It truly represented the emergence of Asia and Africa. It was at Badung where the Non-alignment movement was born. The final document contained the five principles of Pancha Sheel. It was an unprecedented gathering of Asian and African heads of states to mark the birth of non-alignment movement. The conference forces the great powers to recognize that the weak had power if they could mobilize it.

Keywords: Foreign policy of Nehru, Panch sheel, Badung conference, Afro -Asian conference

Umme Faheema