SCO India: From the international point of view, the year 2023 is very special for India. Presently, along with leading the world’s most powerful economic group G20, India is also presiding over the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
As the chairman of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, India is moving forward on the policy of better coordination and taking everyone along with all its member countries. India is not only playing a positive role during the presidency of SCO, it is also using this platform for the betterment of Eurasia.
SCO foreign ministers meeting in May
The meeting of foreign ministers of SCO member countries is to be held in Goa on 4 and 5 May. India is busy in its preparations. It has also sent formal invitations to the member countries to attend this meeting. This also includes Pakistan and China. Bilawal Bhutto is carrying out the responsibility of Foreign Minister of Pakistan, while Qin Gang has become the new Foreign Minister of China. A few days back, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto had to face a lot of flak in the international community for making an objectionable statement on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Despite this, India’s invitation to Bilawal Bhutto is a good sign from foreign policy point of view. However, whether Pakistan’s Foreign Minister will attend this meeting or not, at present no statement has come from Pakistan.
Pakistan’s attitude is not positive
The attitude of Pakistan, which is struggling with economic plight and political instability, is not looking so positive about SCO at the moment. India is organizing the SCO Film Festival in Mumbai from 27 to 31 January. Despite being a member, no film was sent from Pakistan for screening in this festival. All other countries have sent their entries. India had sent invitations to all the member countries for this festival. This shows that despite being angry with Pakistan on many issues, India is not backing down from its international responsibilities. At the same time, Pakistan’s behavior regarding an important platform like SCO is negligent.
Varanasi, the tourism-cultural capital of SCO
India chaired a high-level meeting of the Council of National Coordinators of SCO member countries in Varanasi from January 17 to 19. In this, the representatives of China and Pakistan were connected in a virtual way. In this meeting, an agreement was reached among the member countries to make an international tourism map. Along with this, Varanasi was also declared as the tourism and cultural capital of SCO for 2022-23. SCO’s Samarkand Summit 2022 Varanasi was named the first SCO tourism and cultural capital for this period. Its purpose is to promote tourism, cultural and people-to-people exchanges among the member countries. This decision of SCO shows the importance of India’s ancient relations with Central Asian countries.
Emphasis on fulfilling international responsibilities
Along with international responsibilities, India gives equal importance to bilateral agreements. In view of this, India has issued visas to 249 Pakistanis to visit the shrine of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer. In September 1974, India and Pakistan signed a protocol on visits to religious places. Only under this, both countries allow travel to pilgrimage sites. In view of the tension, the visas of the pilgrims have also been rejected on the basis of different issues from both the countries. But this time, showing a positive attitude as always, India has allowed the people of Pakistan to come.
India is SCO President till September 2023
India became a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2017. Since then, it has been emphasizing on further deepening its historical relations with the members of this organization. In September 2022, the annual summit of this organization was held in Samarkand, the second largest city of Uzbekistan. Representing India in this conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that India is in favor of more cooperation and mutual trust among SCO members. In this conference, the presidency of SCO was handed over to India for the next one year. India is its president till September 2023.
India wants full right of transit
India is working towards increasing connectivity among SCO countries and giving full right of transit to each other. PM at Samarkand Summit 2022 Narendra Modi In view of the energy and food crisis in the world, the member countries had emphasized on increasing cooperation to remove the obstacles related to the global supply chain. Member countries were stressed to make more efforts to develop supply chains in the SCO region. PM Modi had said that better connectivity is necessary for this, as well as the member countries will have to give full right of transit to each other. As the chairman, India is trying to have uninterrupted trade and transit system between South Asia and Central Asia, including the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). For this, India is continuously negotiating with SCO countries. India believes that by getting full rights of transit, trade between SCO countries will accelerate and the economies of SCO countries will be able to share each other’s experiences in a better way. India is also working towards increasing cooperation on traditional medicine among SCO countries.
The economy of SCO countries will gain momentum
India is the fastest growing major economy among the SCO countries. Therefore, in the future, the Indian economy will help in increasing the pace of development in the SCO region. Anyway, after the Corona epidemic, the whole world is facing economic crisis, but it has not affected India’s growth rate much. The role of SCO becomes important in dealing with global economic challenges and its importance increases even more with the presidency of India. To increase economic cooperation, India has also announced the formation of a new special working group on startups and innovation with the aim of sharing its experiences with SCO countries. This will help in increasing economic activities in the SCO region. There are more than 70,000 start-ups in India. There are more than 100 of these unicorns. This experience of India is very useful from the point of view of SCO members.
Expansion of SCO and expectations from India
Currently SCO is being led by the world’s largest democracy. Iran had started the formal process to become a full member of this organization at the Samarkand Summit 2022. Iran will become the ninth member of SCO in the summit to be chaired by India this year. Belarus also aspires to become a member. For this, he is busy in completing the international legal process. It is also likely to become a member of SCO by next year. Under the chairmanship of India, many Gulf countries are joining the SCO as observers or dialogue partners. These include Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are already dialogue partners. India is also trying to strengthen the SCO’s relations with the Gulf countries under its chairmanship. Apart from these, Maldives and Myanmar also have high hopes from India to strengthen their relations with SCO.
SCO is the world’s most powerful platform
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is the largest regional organization in the world in terms of area and population. This organization covers about 60 percent of Eurasia ie Asia and Europe. SCO member countries account for about 30 percent of the global GDP. 40 percent of the world’s population lives in SCO countries only.
SCO travel and membership
At present there are 8 full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. These include Russia, India, China and Pakistan as well as 4 Central Asian countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. SCO is a multilateral organization. It was formed 21 years ago in June 2001. At that time it included Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan along with China and Russia. Earlier China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan were members of Shanghai Five since 1996. After the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, it was renamed as Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Along with India, Pakistan also became a full member of SCO in 2017. At the same time, Iran will also become its ninth member this year. India first became an observer country of SCO in 2005. The headquarters of SCO is in Beijing.
New chapter in engagement with SCO
After getting the chairmanship in September 2022, a new chapter of India’s association with SCO started. This year, many programs and conferences are to be held among SCO countries under the leadership of India. It is expected that under the leadership of India, new dimensions of cooperation will open up among the SCO countries and bilateral relations between the member countries will also be strengthened. At present, the organization has three observer states Belarus, Iran and Mongolia and fourteen dialogue partners Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar, United Arab Emirates and Turkey. Huh.
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