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Significance of SCO
Highlighting the significance of SCO, the PM of India said that “SCO has an important role in developing reliable, resilient and diversified supply chains.”
The PM also pointed out that SCO member countries account for about 30% of global GDP, and 40% of the world’s population.
SCO, according to the PM, also played a significant role in ensuring “food security” as most of the grain exporting countries globally are SCO countries.
The PM endorsed the “cultivation and consumption of millets” as one of the solutions for the existing food insecurity challenges.
What is the Initiative?
Varanasi’s “Cultural and Tourism Capital” has been decided under a new rotating initiative to promote people-to-people contacts and tourism among the member states.
Each year a city of the cultural heritage of a member country that will take over the rotating Presidency of the organisation will get the title to highlight its prominence.
The new initiative will come into force after the Samarkand summit following which India will take over the Presidency and host the next Heads of the State summit.
During the meeting, citing the example of Pakistan denying India the transit trade access by land to Afghanistan and Central Asia, the Indian Prime Minister (PM) held that “better regional connectivity is possible only if members grant each other full transit rights”.
Further, the PM also reiterated the significance of better cooperation in the Eurasian region in the backdrop of the Ukraine war.
He also highlighted the unprecedented energy and food crisis that has been caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict.
Further, the PM talked about the initiatives on manufacturing that India is planning to initiate when India assumes the chair of the SCO and hosts the summit in mid-2023.
PM Modi told Mr Putin that the “era of war” is over and this reflected India’s growing discomfort with the Russian aggression in Ukraine for the first time in public.
The Indian PM also told the Russian leader that democracy, diplomacy and dialogue are the things that touch the world.
The Russian President said that Russia understands India’s “concerns” over its war in Ukraine.
The Russian President also highlighted the need for a visa-free travel deal between India and Russia.
Indian leaders and officials also took part in a bilateral meeting with Turkey and ways to deepen economic linkages between the two countries were also discussed.
What is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?
SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organization.
It’s a Eurasian political, economic and military organization aiming to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
It was created in 2001.
The SCO Charter was signed in 2002 and entered into force in 2003.
Prior to the creation of SCO in 2001, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan were members of the Shanghai Five.
Shanghai Five (1996) emerged from a series of border demarcation and demilitarization talks which the four former Soviet republics held with China to ensure stability along the borders.
Following the accession of Uzbekistan to the organization in 2001, the Shanghai Five was renamed the SCO.
India and Pakistan became members in 2017.
Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states.
Promoting effective cooperation in -politics, trade & economy, research & technology and culture.
Enhancing ties in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, etc.
Maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region.
Establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political & economic order.
Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
Heads of State Council The supreme SCO body which decides its internal functioning and its interaction with other States & international organisations, and considers international issues.
Heads of Government Council Approves the budget, considers and decides upon issues related to economic spheres of interaction within SCO.
Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs Considers issues related to day-to-day activities.
Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure(RATS) Established to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism.
Based in Beijing to provide informational, analytical & organizational support.
The official working language of the SCO Secretariat is Russian and Chinese.
Transit issues between India and Pakistan
In recent years, Pakistan has limited land-based access between India and Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries. This impedes the growth of economic ties between the countries.
Further, Pakistan has even restricted the movement of humanitarian aid from India to Afghanistan.
Recently, the delays by Pakistan in granting transit access have led to delays in India’s plan to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan.
To counter the challenges, India has involved itself in the development of Iran’s Chabahar Port as an alternative to Pakistan for the land route to Central Asia and Russia.
Pakistan’s new Prime Minister countered the concerns raised by the Indian PM on transit issues by saying that a structured SCO approach towards connectivity is required in the region and if there is connectivity, transit rights will automatically be processed.
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