The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State meeting, hosted by Prime Minister on 4th of July 2023, marked the ?rst time India chaired the summit of regional countries.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
- Intergovernmental Organisation- It is an intergovernmental organization founded in Shanghai on 15 June 2001. The SCO currently comprises eight Member States and four Observer States.
- Dialogue partner- In 2021, the decision was made to start the accession process of Iran to the SCO as a full member, and Egypt, Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia became dialogue partners.
- Areas of Cooperation- Since its inception in 2001, the SCO has mainly focused on regional security issues, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism.
Why SCO’S membership important for India?
- Economy dynamics- Joining the originally Eurasian group was important as member countries make up a third of the global GDP, a ?fth of global trade, a ?fth of global oil reserves and about 44% of natural gas reserves.
- In sync with India’s growth parameters- Its focus on regional security and connectivity are areas key to India’s growth and making up its challenges, such as terrorism in Pakistan.
- Access to Central Asia - The SCO also gives India an interface with Central Asian markets and resources.
Diminishing returns over India’s SCO engagement
- SCO formal language- The government was unable to forge consensus on other agreements including one on making English a formal SCO language.
- Economic cooperation- India, despite being Chair, did not endorse a road map on economic cooperation, presumably due to concerns over China’s imprint.
- Virtual Summit- India’s decision to postpone the SCO summit due to the Prime Minister’s U.S. State visit, and then to turn it into a virtual summit may have been a dampener on the SCO outcomes.