The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization established in 2001, comprising eight member states, including India.
The SCO aims to promote regional cooperation on various issues, with its main permanent executive body, the SCO Secretariat, based in Beijing.
In 2015, India became a member of the SCO, thanks in part to Russia’s support, which viewed India’s presence as a counterbalance to Chinese dominance in Central Asia.
Amidst tense relations between India and China since the Doklam episode and conflicts in eastern Ladakh, the SCO offers India a platform to strengthen ties with Moscow and assert its regional presence.
A recent visit by the Indian Prime Minister to Central Asian countries has opened opportunities for collaboration in areas such as connectivity, energy security, and counterterrorism efforts.
India’s permanent membership in the SCO facilitates improved bilateral relations with Central Asian countries despite India’s lack of direct geographical access.
As the current Chair of the SCO, India has initiated new areas of cooperation within the bloc, such as startups and innovation, traditional medicine, digital inclusion, youth empowerment, and shared Buddhist heritage.
The upcoming summit, themed ‘Towards a SECURE SCO,’ emphasizes the significance of Security, Economy and Trade, Connectivity, Unity, Respect for Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity, and the Environment.
India’s involvement in the SCO has enabled it to foster people-to-people connections and emphasize historical and civilizational bonds among member nations.
The double presidency of India in both the G20 and SCO presents an opportunity for India to demonstrate its diplomatic goodwill and influence on the international stage, transcending geopolitical divisions during a time of global turbulence.
India must effectively utilize both the SCO and the Quad to further its interests, avoiding an either-or approach and navigating the diplomatic battlefield with strategic finesse.