With India obtaining membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), an important platform has opened up for New Delhi, which can serve as a critical geopolitical pole focused on central Asia and its neighbourhood. Discuss.

 With India obtaining membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), an important platform has opened up for New Delhi, which can serve as a critical geopolitical pole focused on central Asia and its neighbourhood. Discuss.
Approach:
  • Briefly mention about SCO.
  • Discuss the significance of SCO for India.
  • Also bring out the challenges that India might face in this organization.
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation created in 2001 by Russia, China and the Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The organisation is mainly aimed at maintaining and ensuring peace, security and stability in the region.
During a recent expansion of the grouping, India also became member of the grouping. With the expansion of the SCO, the organisation would now represent over 2/5th of global population and nearly 1/5th of the world economy.
Significance of SCO for India:
  • India’s security, geopolitical, strategic and economic interests are closely intertwined with developments in the Central Asian region.
  • The ever present and expanding challenges of terrorism, radicalism and instability pose a grave threat to the sovereignty and integrity not only of India but also of countries in its broader neighborhood. India feels as an SCO member it will be able to play a major role in addressing these threats.
  • New Delhi is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
  • In addition, the mostly landlocked Central Asian region is richly endowed with natural resources and vital minerals. To access these resources, India is actively collaborating to develop the Iranian seaport of Chabahar (as Pakistan refuses to provide access through its territory) 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.
  • India’s membership in the SCO will provide a welcome opportunity for India’s leadership to meet with their counterparts from Central Asia, Russia, China, Afghanistan and others regularly and frequently. India’s potential participation in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will be an added advantage to make this partnership more fruitful.
Challenges faced by India at SCO:
  • The possibility that SCO might be used as a counterweight against USA, and India will have to tread cautiously.
  • Fragile nature of SCO as Central Asian countries keep changing their position regularly in line with their interests.
  • Differences between India and Pakistan on the issue of connecting South Asia with central Asia might hamper the functioning of the SCO as it has halted the growth of SAARC.
  • China’s approach towards Pakistani terrorists like Masood Azhar & Lakhwi
  • Support to BRI of all members of SCO might lead to isolation of India on this platform.
  • It would be difficult for India to overcome the burden of geography and make tangible gains in terms of trans-regional connectivity.
Conclusion:
India should strive to benefit from its regional presence in Central Asia to track trends in security, energy, trade, connectivity and cultural interests. New Delhi should use the SCO atmosphere to build better convergence with China and Russia as well as to offset the intensity of China-Pakistan alignment, which actually undercuts India’s direct access to Eurasia.

Subjects : Current Affairs

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