The SCO opportunity for India


The SCO opportunity for India

News: India holds the rotating presidency of the SCO this year, and in this capacity has hosted several ministeriallevel SCO meetings.

What is SCO?

o The SCO is a multilateral grouping comprising eight member states of China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; four Observer States; and six “Dialogue Partners”.
o Of the four observers, Iran and Belarus are set to be admitted as full members in this year. Afghanistan and Mongolia being other two observer states.
o The dialogue partners are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey.
o SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005.

Significance of SCO for India:

o A membership of the SCO gave India a higher profile in Central Asia to which it does not have overland access.
o The membership will help formulate appropriate Eurasian strategy.
o In post-US Afghanistan, it has helped India stay involved in the regional discussion on Taliban rule, from which it is otherwise excluded.
o The grouping promotes regional security – Combating Terrorism, extremism. This is more so important given negative impact of Talibanised Afghanistan on India especially in J&K.
o It facilitates economic cooperation in three areas— energy, building trade and transportation links. Central Asian Republics (CARs) are rich in iron-ore, coal, oil, gas, uranium etc
o India, one of the largest energy consuming countries in the world, is also likely to get greater access to major gas and oil exploration projects in Central Asia. Example – TAPI project
o The meetings of SCO will provide a platform to constructively engage with both Pakistan and China.
o The SCO represents India’s diplomacy in the Eurasian landmass. It can also be seen as an exercise of true multipolarity.
o Russia sees India’s presence in the SCO as a potential countervailing force to Chinese dominance of Central Asia. It was Russia that began pushing for India’s membership of the group.


o Both China and Russia are major members of the grouping and the West views SCO as a cosy club run by both the nations who are striving for their own dominance in Central Asian Region.
o SCO members have, in the past, expressed concern of the organisation being held hostage to India’s and Pakistan’s adversarial relationship, and their fears would likely have worsened in recent times.
o India didn’t join other members of SCO in backing China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Thus, there are differences within the grouping as well.
o The SCO has not taken visible counterterrorism measures against the main threat facing its members, which emanates from Pakistan-Afghanistan.

Way Forward

India can use its age-old relations with Iran, Russia, and the CARs to confront and neutralise the China Pakistan axis. India and the Eurasian region have a long-standing cultural connection. In addition, its rising economic clout and its young demographics can help boost its position within the grouping

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