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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday arrived in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit. He met Chinese President Xi Jinping, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO Summit to further strengthen bilateral relations. Amid frosty relations, no pleasantries were exchanged between PM Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. This comes as India clarified that there would be no bilateral meeting between the two leaders. PM Modi held his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss ways to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries. He termed the meeting as extremely fruitful. PM Modi also held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that it was “excellent”. Apart from these two meetings he also met the President of Afghanistan and the heads of the other member states.

About SCO:

  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or 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.
  • After the disintegration of Soviet Union in 1991, China has a large number of undecided and disputed borders with many of the countries that became independent then. This saw the formation of Shanghai Five by these nations.
  • Uzbekistan joined the Shanghai Five group in June 2011 and the group was henceforth named, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Its charter was signed in June 2002.
  • India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members in June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
  • SCO is the largest regional organisation in the world in terms of geographical coverage and population and has become very powerful and influential.
  • Members of SCO in 2018:

8 member states: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

4 observer states: Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia

6 dialogue partners: Armenia, Azerbaizan, Cambodia, Nepal, SriLanka and Turkey

  • SCO was initially formed to secure relations about security. Countries were supposed to work together against terrorism, extremism and separatism. Over the years it has become a comprehensive regional organisation. Its goals have become more widened.
  • Main goals of SCO are:
    • Promoting mutual trust and neighbourliness.
  • Promoting cooperation in politics, trade, economy, research, technology and culture.
  • Enhancing ties in areas like education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection and healthcare.
  • Maintaining and ensuring peace, security and stability in the region.
  • Moving towards establishment of democratic, fair and rational international political and economic order.
  • Heads of State Council is supreme decision-making body. It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters. Heads of Government Council is the second highest body. Meetings are also held at levels of heads of parliament, ministers of foreign affairs, economy, transport, etc.
  • 2 permanent bodies of SCO: SCO secretariat, Beijing and Executive Committee of the Anti-Terrorist Structure, Tashkent.

Highlights and Analysis:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a template to further SCO cooperation known as “HEALTH” which mean Health Care Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Alternative Energy, Literature and Culture, Terrorism Free Society and Humanitarian Cooperation respectively.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the spirit and ideals of the SCO to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
  • He urged the SCO leaders to organize a global conference on terrorism.
  • Focus was to better economic ties among SCO nations.
  • Declaration also pressed for consensus regarding the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
  • India and Russia:
    • Prime Minster Modi met Russian President Vladimir Putin and wide range of discussions took place to boost India-Russia strategic relationship and people to people linkages.
    • Prime Minister Putin invited Modi to be the main guest at Eastern Economic Forum
    • The invitation is a very opening which India is getting because that particular region is rich in minerals.
  • India and China:
    • Prime Minister Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping and had a talk to improve economic and cultural ties between the nations.
    • To have dialogue on boundary issues for securing a fair solution, trade deficit issues, discussion on Pakistan.
  • Platform to revive flagging relationship with Russia which has also come under pressure because of American policies and sanctions.
  • China is nervous of Pakistan’s present condition– Its GDP is shivering and even Bangladesh is to overcome it in very few months. In other terms Maharashtra state is itself 30% wealthier now in dollar terms than Pakistan.
  • In context of India and Pakistan= No talks until any concrete action is taken by Pakistan but SCO can be used to take our relationship in whichever way.

Way Forward:

  • SCO provides a very good opportunity to India to connect with the leadership of Central Asian countries and that a very big take away.
  • 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.

The SCO which had stated with a group of Five members has expanded and included India and Pakistan in 2017. Its goals and objectives have also widened from security to economy and other areas. For India, it is a very good opportunity to boost its ties with Central Asian countries.

Russia will be next to assume the presidency of the SCO. In 2020, the Russian Federation will host a regular SCO Heads of State council meeting.