Published: Monday, 19 June, 2017 12:30 PM
Shanghai Cooperation Organization and It’s Impact on India
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Read Current Affairs Topic: Shanghai Cooperation Organization and It’s Impact on India
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is one of the most significant international organization formed in the post-cold war era. The SCO is primarily a group of central Asian countries with China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan as its founder members. Later, Uzbekistan gained full membership status in 2002 while India and Pakistan were granted full membership in 2017. While the several other central Asian organizations like Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and Eurasian Economic Union etc had failed to justify their relevance in changing geopolitical dynamics, the expansion of SCO testifies its increasing significance.
It is believed that initially China was not very keen to grant full membership to India but gave in after the Russian insistence. Similarly, Russia was not in favour of granting full membership to Pakistan but gave in to the Chinese insistence. The joining of third largest economy and second largest democracy was not opposed by other members of the SCO. The two permanent bodies of SCO are the secretariat in Beijing and the Regional Anti-terrorist Structure based in Tashkent.
The SCO membership produces a great potential in providing long-term gains to both India and the SCO. Some of potential benefits accruing to India are as under:
- The current ties between India and Pakistan are at nadir. Since SCO charter doesn’t allow the member countries to bring their bilateral issues at the platform, Pakistan would not succeed in using SCO as a platform to internationalise the Kashmir issue. On the other hand, India can raise its concerns regarding terrorism at the SCO as terrorism is a global security threat.
- Pakistan had always denied India the access to Afghanistan and central Asian countries. The membership of SCO can enable India to engage Pakistan in wider dimensions and use the platform for enabling land access to the central Asian economies. Pakistan had denied India the land access to the central Asia via Afghanistan. As an alternate route, India was developing Chabahar port in Iran as a part of International North South Corridor that connects Chabahar to central Asia via Afghanistan. SCO membership is also in line with the Connect Central Asia policy of India.
- The leaders of the central Asian Muslim countries are secular in their orientation and their opposition to religious extremism is a strategic asset for the region and important for Indian security particularly when Pakistan, which is a safe haven for several international terrorists and radicals, has also became the fulltime member of SCO.
- The goals enshrined under the SCO charter include promoting cooperation in politics, trade, economy, technology and so on and to making joint efforts to promote peace, security and stability. The goals of SCO are complementary to the Indian objectives. Modern technology and trade are considered as the future engines of growth.
- The SCO has the potential to open the vast ventral Asian market for Indian exports while the resource rich central Asia will also help in fuelling the Indian economic growth. Once a land link is established between India and central Asia, bilateral trade will usher development in both the regions.
- For many years, projects like IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) and TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipelines were halted due to security reasons. With India and Pakistan now joining the organization, it is highly possible that the projects may finally take off.
- Central Asian region is also rich in the uranium which is in scarce supply in India. In order to ensure the continuous operation of its civilian nuclear reactors, India needs regular imports of fissile material.
- The central Asian region holds significant proportion of the world energy reserves. The SCO membership will help in developing closer ties with the central Asian countries and thereby providing access to the vast energy resources. Energy security is one of the most important prerequisite for a fast growing economy.
However, the significance of Indian membership to SCO is more geopolitical then economic. As the SCO is dominated by China and Russia, the other members of the SCO will also be benefited by the admission of another regional power in the bloc.
For India, the central Asia, despite being in close neighbourhood was largely an untapped region. In fact, the aerial distance between New Delhi and the most Central Asian capitals is less than that of Thiruvananthapuram. Thus, deepening of ties between central Asia and India is a natural phenomenon which should have happened much earlier.
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