Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

From Panchsheel to Panchamrit

Dr. Anirban Ganguly

After a long spell a political party has come out with a resolution  on India’s foreign policy that reflects not only the new restructured vision matrix of India’s aspiration beyond her boundaries but also deftly spells out her urge to evolve or re-configure her role as a civilisational state in a rapidly changing global political framework.

The foreign policy resolution passed at the just concluded BJP national executive meet in Bengaluru, departing from staid diplomatic lexicon, talks of working for India’s rise as a “respected world power” and emphasises on the need to recognise and work to enhance and re-invent India’s “cultural and civilisational linkages.” The recognition of the civilisational dimensions is in itself an original approach, signifying a directional shift in re-imagining India’s foreign policy in the last one year

Nehru’s Panchsheel, may now be put to rest. It reflected the ideals and yearnings of a bygone era and in any case did not serve us so well in times of crisis. Panchsheel in its intrinsic programming and vision had no forward movement. It was essentially a doctrine of status-quo, a document of preservation rather than a vehicle for dynamic outreach. The newly articulated “Panchamrit”, on the other hand, as formulated in the foreign policy resolution, has clearly emerged as the new supporting pillars of India’s foreign policy.

“Samman – dignity and honour; Samvad – greater engagement and dialogue; Samriddhi – shared prosperity; Suraksha – regional and global security; and Sanskriti evam Sabhyata – cultural and civilizational linkages” are the five themes – “Panchamrit” – of India’s new approach to the world. India’s external strategy has finally discovered a dynamic vehicle to carry forward its future oriented agenda, a vehicle that can now facilitate and symbolise her global aspirations and potentials.

The question as to what would be the cornerstone of Modi’s foreign policy, the question as to how would a “regional leader” cope up with the intricate web and demands of foreign policy, the question as to what would be Modi’s contribution or what new can he do in the domain of foreign policy have been roundly answered in the last eleven months.

After a stagnant decadal phase, the last eleven months have witnessed some of the most dynamic outreach in each of these five areas.  Prime Minister Modi’s global criss-crossing, Foreign Minister Swaraj’s equally determined strategic outreach programmes have inaugurated greater engagement and dialogue while formulating the “shared prosperity” vision especially in the context of SAARC. Prime Minister Modi’s outreach in the IOR and the Asia-Pacific have redefined India’s approach to global and regional security while his proactive effort to articulate a civilisational and cultural narrative in each of these has introduced a new dimension that has capacity to consciously facilitate the remapping of India’s civilisational footprints in Asia and beyond.

Let Panchseel lapse and be consigned to discussion rooms of the academia, let it rest with historians of diplomacy and be left to their semantics, let Panchamrit instead be our directional compass in foreign policy for the next five decades.