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By Claude Arpi

Mittal Publications

Born in Sin: The Panchsheel Agreement     In India, one often hears of ‘Panchsheel’, but few know that it only was an "Agreement on Trade and Intercourse between the Tibet region of China and India” signed by China and India on April 29, 1954.

     Since the preamble of this Agreement contained the famous Five Principles, it was dubbed the ‘Panchsheel Agreement’. Though it lapsed in 1962 and was never renewed, it has kept its aura as the ideal solution to conduct foreign relations. But its first result was that Tibet, a 2000-old nation was erased from the map of Asia.

     During a debate in the Parliament in 1958, the Socialist leader Acharya Kripalani stated: “This great doctrine was born in sin, because it was enunciated to put the seal of our approval upon the destruction of an ancient nation which was associated with us spiritually and culturally… It was a nation which wanted to live its own life and it sought to have been allowed to live its own life.”

     The 1962 Sino-Indian conflict was another consequence of the ‘Panchsheel’ policy.

     A hundred years ago a young British Colonel, Francis Younghusband entered the holy city of Lhasa and forced upon the Tibetans their first Agreement with the mighty British Empire. In signing this treaty with the Crown, Tibet was ‘acknowledged’ as a separate nation by the British.

     Ten years later, London called for a tripartite Conference in Simla to settle the issue: British India, Tibet and China sat together at a negotiation table for the first time.

     The Simla Convention, born out of the Conference was still in force when India became independent in August 1947.

     However, an event changed the destiny of the Land of Snows. In October 1950, Mao Zedong’s troops invaded Tibet.

     With this background, the present research looks at the genesis of the Panchsheel Agreement between India and China which converted the Land of Snows into merely ‘Tibet’s Region of China’. A natural and cultural buffer zone between India and China disappeared.

     The preamble of the Agreement contained the Five Principles which formed the main pillar of India’s foreign policy for the next fifty years. This was the beginning of the Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai slogan and India’s ‘non-aligned’ position.

     This policy still haunts an India unable to sort out her border tangle with China. This study concludes with some tentative but constructive proposals to come out of the current impasse.

ISBN: 91-7099-974-X
Year of Publication: August 2004
Price: Rs 495


Mittal Publications
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New Delhi 110 059
Tel: 011- 25351493, 25351976 Fax: 25351521
Showroom: 4594/9 Daryaganj
New Delhi 110002
Tel: 23250398


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