Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kazakhstan on a two-day visit, for Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit meeting in Astana. The event is based on the theme “Future Energy” this year.
In this summit India raised several points which matter most for it. India pitched for “territorial integrity and sovereignty” indicating to One Belt One Road initiative which is being constructed by China. India also emphasized on terrorism and other security related issues.
Here we have explained what SCO is and how it is important for India.
Membership for India
The summit has fulfilled India’s long-time desire to get full membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Along with India, Pakistan also got the full time membership this time.
India has been an observer of SCO meeting since 2005 and has participated in ministerial-level meetings, which focused on security and economic co-operation in the Eurasian region.
India’s full membership will help in achieving regional and global stability and prosperity. It will also strengthen India’s position in Central Asia.
The permanent members of SCO
SCO was founded in 1996 with five countries- China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. The primary purpose behind the formation of SCO was to ensure stability along the borders.
Uzbekistan joined in the group in 2001. India and Pakistan, who have been observers, have now become permanent members of the body.
It will also help the country’s aim to regional integration, promote connectivity and stability across borders.
India and the SCO: An Analysis
Indian Prime Minister Said "I look forward to deepening India's association with the SCO which will help us in economic, connectivity and counter-terrorism cooperation, among other things," He also said India looks forward to further progress in ties with SCO nations for "mutual betterment and growth of our countries and our people".
As we know, SCO came into existence in 1996. Since its establishment, the SCO has concluded several wide-ranging agreements on trade and investment security, energy connectivity, and culture. It was created at China’s behest with Russian support. In Central Asia, the significance of the SCO cannot be underestimated because of the presence of large territorial and economic powers like Russia and China, as well as the geopolitical space that the grouping occupies.
The geographical and strategic space which the SCO entails is of great importance for India. India’s security, strategic, geopolitical, and economic interests are deeply intertwined with developments in the region.
The chronic presence and increasing challenges of terrorism, radicalism, and instability still pose a grave threat to the sovereignty and integrity not only of India, but also of countries in its broader neighborhood. India’s participation in the SCO will be helpful for fighting against these problems. That is why cooperation on counter-terrorism is expected to be a major point of India’s exchange with SCO.
After the full membership, India is expected to have a greater say in pushing for effective action in combating terrorism and on issues relating to security.
The SCO opens India’s door for Central Asia which is a part of India’s extended neighborhood. India’s relations with countries in the region have potential to realize the enormous potential for enhancing ties in areas such as policy, security, trade, economy, investment, connectivity, energy, and capacity development.
Currently, India is one of the largest energy consuming countries in the world. The membership in the SCO is also likely to increase India’s access to major gas and oil exploration projects in Central Asia.
The Central Asian region is richly endowed with natural resources and vital minerals. The region is landlocked, and Uzbekistan is even doubly landlocked, which makes it difficult to access these resources for other countries. The SCO is expected to open India’s door for these resources which would of immense help for fulfilling India’s energy demands.
Trade is dependent on passage through third countries and the political dispensation of regimes in power.
India has been making efforts to get around the lack of direct land connectivity with Central Asia. Due to Pakistan’s refusal to provide access through its territory, India is actively collaborating to develop the Iranian seaport of Chabahar, with possible financial and technical support from Japan.
India has also prioritized the construction of the International North-South Transport Corridor. Joining the SCO will be a welcome diplomatic boost to India’s efforts to connect with Central Asia.Meanwhile, India’s membership in the SCO will add further heft and muscle to the organization, particularly against the backdrop of continuing weakness in the international economy and anemic global demand.
India today is the fastest expanding global economy, with annual GDP growth of 7.5 percent. It represents the third largest economy ($8 trillion) in PPP terms and seventh largest ($2.3 trillion) in nominal dollar terms. It also inspires confidence on other indicators, such as FDI, inward remittances, savings rate, and pace of economic reforms.
India has demonstrated its keen interest in strengthening multi-faceted relations with Central Asia through Modi’s historic visit to the five Central Asian republics in July 2015. Several agreements were signed and new initiatives launched.
The TAPI gas pipeline represents a shining example of a mutually beneficial project. In the future, India’s development experience, particularly in promoting agriculture, small and medium enterprises, pharmaceuticals, and information technology, can be of immense benefit to Central Asian countries.
Apart from it, India’s membership in the China-dominated grouping is seen as a major milestone as it is expected to increase the group’s heft in regional geo-politics and trade negotiations besides giving it a pan-Asian hue.
India’s getting a full membership in the SCO creates a win-win situation for the organization, for Central Asia, for China, and for Russia, as well as for India.
Now, SCO has a huge potential to play a more substantive role in promoting peace, security, connectivity, economic development, trade, energy security, and investment within the region and beyond.