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Diminishing returns

  • Published
    6th Jul, 2023


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.
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