India is expanding and enriching its’ imprint on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) by assuming the Chairmanship of the Council of SCO Heads of Government later this year. Linked to this responsibility and India’s journey in SCO in the past three years, is a palpable optimism for this vibrant organization and the vast opportunities that it opens up to a resurgent and self- reliant ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has emerged as a key regional organization in the Eurasian space in the past two decades of its existence. Accounting for over 60 per cent of Eurasia’s territory and more than 40 per cent of the world’s population, the Member States of SCO account for almost a quarter of the world’s GDP. The induction of new states, both as permanent and observer members, has not only expanded the frontiers of the organization but also helped broaden its scope and effectiveness. The renewed momentum in building regional synergies is reflected in addressing common security challenges and building long-term economic and energy linkages. The spirit of cooperation was most recently evident in joining forces to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic.
India received the Observer status of the organization in 2005 and was accorded the full member status in 2017. More than a decade of engagement with the organization, underscores India’s willingness to play a more meaningful role in this regional grouping. This optimism also stems from India’s desire to deepen its Eurasian partnerships. In this context, SCO provides a springboard for India to reconnect to this extended neighbourhood, with which we are bound by the enduring bonds of centuries of common history. India’s cultural heritage is deeply influenced by countries in Eurasia. Indian traders and travelers had traded along the caravan routes for thousands of years and Buddhism had flourished across the vast Eurasian steppe. History is full of close interactions between India and Central Asia, through movement of people, goods and ideas, including spiritual interfaces that enriched us both. The fondness for Indian culture is expressed in Central Asia’s deep interest in Indian cinema, music, and art.
Acknowledging the strength of these umbilical bonds, India’s growing economic potential and vast experience and expertise in building institutional capabilities, can add greater value to SCO’s ongoing projects and share best practices in newer areas to forge a common vision for the region. India’s chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government during 2020 culminating in the Summit in India on 30 November 2020, affords us an opportunity to contribute in a substantive way on the trade and economic agenda of SCO – that will be the main mandate of the Summit in November.
India has broken new ground with respect to three areas in which we have proposed to synergize our collective strengths–Start-ups and Innovation, Traditional Medicine and Science and Technology. India has offered to host a new SCO Special Working Group on Start-ups and Innovation, formation of a new Sub Group on cooperation in Traditional Medicine for attainment of Sustainable Development Goals 3 (SDG3) and hosting the First-ever SCO Conclave for Young Scientists.
New Delhi is also striving to create a more active and focused intellectual discourse on identifying areas of potential and mutually beneficial cooperation in trade and investment within SCO. India received full support from all member states in the meeting and look forward to the finalization of the Delhi Action Plan – as an outcome document to be presented to the leaders at the SCO Heads of Government Meeting in India in November.
India would also like to contribute to a greater understanding of each other’s cultural heritage by fostering greater people–to–people contacts. civilizational heritage and bonds that unite our region.
India fully supports the spirit of consensus and mutual understanding that have been the hallmark of the organization. New Delhi would always play a constructive role in enriching the agenda of the SCO by placing human beings at the centre of our thought and actions to foster greater prosperity and well-being of our region.
Script: Padam Singh, AIR: News Analyst