Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Samarkand in Uzbekistan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit. The 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO is the first in-person summit since 2019, wherein the leaders are expected to review the organization’s activities over the past two decades and also discuss the state and prospects of multilateral cooperation in the future. Besides, some important issues of regional and global importance are also likely to be taken up. On the sidelines of the summit, Prime Minister Modi also held a few bilateral meetings with the Presidents of Russia & Uzbekistan.
- India held four bilateral exchanges during the summit, with Russia, Uzbekistan, Iran, and Turkey.
- India pressed on the need to address the major disruptions caused to trade, supply chains, food security, and the energy sector as a result of the Ukraine crisis and Covid-19. I
- ndia’s interests in having stronger supply chains coincides with the country’s ambitions to become a manufacturing hub, which, therefore, requires it to collaborate with the region’s major economies.
- Prime Minister Modi pressed for transit rights at the summit in order to facilitate stronger supply chainsthrough enhanced connectivity; previously, India has struggled to access Central Asian markets without transit rights across Pakistan’s territory.
- India’s focus will be to take a people-centric development model, an approach that will in turn transform the population into a competitive workforce and will also value the spread of technology.
- Modi’s focus on increasing India’s exposure to economic and trade opportunities will have an inevitable impact on the country’s technological advancements.
- India boasts over 70,000 startups today, a number on par with the United States, of which 100 are unicorns—startup companies valued at $1 billion.
- This summit was the first time that Prime Minister Modi interacted with President Putin. During their bilateral exchange, Modi made it clear that he wishes for the war to end.
- Both leaders discussed increased collaboration in Russian export of fertilizers, which President Putin said has increased by eight times the amount previously exported.
- For India and Russia, cooperation is likely to remain intact or further increase in the energy and defense sectors.
SCO’s Significance for India:
- Shanghai Cooperation Organisationor SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and security organisation. SCO grew out of Shanghai Five founded in 1996 with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as its original members.
- The invite for Imran Khan has signalled India’s desire to increase its engagement with the organisation.
- The SCO’s significance for Indialies in economics and geopolitics with the Eurasian states.
- SCO is a potential platform to advance India’s Connect Central Asia policy.
- The SCO member states occupy the huge landmass adjacent to India’s extended neighbourhood where India has both economic and security imperatives.
- Importance of SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group to stabilise Afghanistan.
- SCO membership provides India a vital counter to some of the other groupings it is a part of.
- The SCO provides the only multilateral platform for India to deal in close proximity with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Challenges for India:
- There are differences on the ideaof connectivity being put forth by different SCO members.
- While India has made its opposition to Belt and Road Initiative clear, all other SCO members have embraced the Chinese project.
- Growing closeness of Russia and China.
- India’s bilateral trade with Central Asia and Russia is very low compared to China’s trade with Russia and Central Asia.
- The lack of connectivity has also hampered development of energy ties between the hydrocarbonrich region and India.
- In a win for the country, India will take over the rotating presidency of the SCO and host the 2023 summit. India is carefully moving its way up the global leadership ladder strategically and diplomatically.
- Prime Minister Modi recognizes the potential that collaboration with SCO members holds for improving India’s trade relations in the region and cementing itself as a reliable trade partner, especially since East Asia is poised to become the new center of development of world economy.
- Prime Minister Modi also seems to hold at heart that the best way to address tensions or disagreements with other countries is to communicate diplomatically and openly, rather than isolate oneself or other countries.
- Regardless of the differences, the Indian government has consistently maintained the importance of the SCO grouping, referred to as the “Asian NATO” although it does not mandate security alliances.
- India has a good record of economic growth and handling problem which is a problem of other countries which lays foundation to huge foreign investment.
- Increase cooperation between SCO and other multilateral organisations.
- Strengthen the fight against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and organised crime among others.
- Increasing awareness of our shared cultures can help boost tourism.