Shanghai Cooperation Organization or SCO is a crucial organization in the scenario where the world is deeply divided between the US and Russia. Indian diplomacy is getting tested from different summits and groupings. Each and every move if India is being watched closely by the world. In this tense atmosphere, the meeting of SCO was successfully organized in Samarkand city of Uzbekistan. The meeting of SCO this year was conducted on 15th and 16th September, although the meeting could be easily conducted virtually also yet Uzbekistan forced it to be held with the physical presence of world leaders to give a stronger signal to the West that nations in SCO stand together.
SCO is a very significant group in the region of central Asia. Central Asia acts as the powerhouse of the world as it holds great reserves of Oil, hydrocarbons and Natural Gas which has a role to play in geopolitics. No in-person meetings have been conducted in the last two years because of COVID-19 pandemic which raised its significance a little more.
SCO is not only a political grouping, it also manages the military, economic and security aspects of the member nations. Now, this group also started talks about climate change. The member countries all together represent the 40% population of the globe and cover 30% GDP combined in the global economy.
History of SCO-
In 1996, a group existed with the name 'Shanghai Five'. It was a simple agreement of security among 5 countries, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, also including China and Russia. Later in 2001, a meeting was held in Shanghai along with representatives from Uzbekistan and here SCO was formed. Signature on this charter was done in 2002 and enforced next year in 2003.
In 2017, the meeting was organized in Astana, a city in Kazakhstan which is now renamed as Nur-Sultan, India and Pakistan also became the members of this dominant group. Before joining the group, India and Pakistan were granted the observer status which brewed more confidence in the group.
In 2021, the summit was conducted virtually by Dushanbe and Iran was considered for membership. Now, Iran is expected to get involved in the group really soon. This group has expanded its reach and significance over the years. 3 other countries which are enjoying observer status like - Belarus, Mongolia and Afghanistan have shown keen interest in joining the SCO group. The SCO group has 6 dialogue partners also including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Turkey, Cambodia and the two countries which were recently involved in war, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Even Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt are seeking the inclusion in the group, this shows the clout which the SCO group is attaining worldwide. Expansion of SCO makes it very important for India which has been aptly balancing the two superpowers US and Russia effectively till date. China and Russia are using this large platform to subdue the dominance of the US and the West.
Why was this summit special?
SCO group seeks to work for stability in the region and ensure security to its partners. It is also works to tackle terrorism and reduce tensions as the terrorist organisations keeps harbouring in the region of central Asia. Radical outfits are very active in this region and to fight with it, good cooperation among nations is needed. RATS(Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure) is a robust fulcrum of SCO having headquarters in Tashkent in Uzbekistan to bolster the fight against terrorism. Also, China wants to strengthen its trade with its Belt and Road initiative to explore and exploit their natural resources easily. India's presence in the group has become very important in this regard to prevent the Chinese expansion and influence in the region.
PM Modi attended the meeting and also met Russia president Putin bilaterally in this regard. PM Modi appreciated Russia along with Ukraine for the help in evacuating students from Ukraine. PM Modi also said that 'this era isn't of war' and at this president Putin replied that he would try to end this war as soon as possible. On this platform, PM Modi took the opportunity to tell everyone that India is the fastest growing economy in the world and we are expected to grow 7.5% this year which will be the largest in all great economies of the globe. PM Modi also expressed concerns over disrupted global supply chains and disturbed transition of energy in the world. Russia also congratulated India for hosting the next SCO meeting in 2023. President Putin also told Mr. Modi, that he wants to congratulate him for his birthday on 17 but he cannot give him an advance wish as per the Russian tradition. PM Modi also expressed gratitude towards the fact that India's friendship with Russia has grown over the years and become stronger and deeper with time. There was no meeting or bilateral talks between the Indian Prime Minister Modi and his Chinese counterpart.