Karol Bagh | GS Foundation Course | 29 April, 11:30 AM Call Us
This just in:

State PCS

Be Mains Ready

  • 11 Dec 2020 GS Paper 2 International Relations

    Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has an important role in contributing to security and stability of Asia. In the light of the statement, discuss the prospects of India's full membership of SCO. (250 words)

    • Introduce by highlighting the importance of SCO for India.
    • Discuss the opportunities that India could avail from SCO.
    • Explain the associated challenges with SCO
    • Write a way forward and conclude suitably.


    • In less than two decades, SCO has emerged as a key regional organisation in the Eurasian space. It accounts for over 60% of Eurasia's territory, more than 40% of the world's population, and almost a quarter of the world's GDP.
    • Given the increasing role and significance of the SCO in the Eurasian region and beyond, India is likely to benefit more in the long-term by joining the organisation. Therefore, SCO provides the opportunity for India to fulfil its national interest while cautiously navigating through challenges.


    Opportunities For India

    • Regional Security: SCO will enable India, as an integral part of the Eurasian security grouping, to neutralise centrifugal forces arising from religious extremism and terrorism in the region.
    • Embracing Regionalism: The SCO is one of the few regional structures India is a part of now, given a decline in its engagement with SAARC, BBIN and the RCEP.
      • More importantly, cooperation in three critical areas— energy, building trade and transportation links, and dealing with traditional and non-traditional security threats— can be facilitated through the SCO mechanism.
    • Connect With Central Asia: SCO is also a potential platform to advance India’s Connect Central Asia policy. The SCO provides India with a convenient channel for its outreach — trade and strategic ties — to Central Asian countries.
    • Dealing With Pakistan & China: SCO provides India with a forum where it can constructively engage both China and Pakistan in a regional context and project India’s security interests.
    • Bringing Stability in Afganistan: SCO also an alternative regional platform to delve into the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan and the centrifugal forces arising from religious extremism and terrorism in the region which threaten India’s security and development.
    • Strategic Balancing: Above all, the SCO has been seen as a grouping worth pursuing as it retains India’s geopolitical balance, a useful counterpoint to New Delhi’s otherwise much more robust relations with the western world.
    • Foundational Dimensions of SECURE: Acknowledging the strategic importance emanating from the region and SCO, the Indian Prime Minister had articulated the foundational dimension of Eurasia being 'SECURE’. The letters in the word SECURE are:S for Security of our citizens, E for Economic development for all, C for Connecting the region, U for Unite our people, R for Respect for Sovereignty and Integrity, and E for Environment protection.

    Challenges That India Needs to Navigate

    • Denial Of Direct Land Connectivity: A major impediment in India’s expanded engagement with Eurasia remains the strategic denial of direct land connectivity between India and Afghanistan and beyond by Pakistan.
      • The lack of connectivity has also hampered the development of energy ties between the hydrocarbon-rich region and India
    • Growing Russia-China Convergence: Today the challenge India faces is the growing closeness of Russia and China, even as India has promoted better relations with the US. Further, the new equation of growing Russia — China — Pakistan triangular convergence of interests is a challenge that needs to be navigated.
    • Difference Over BRI: While India has made its opposition to BRI clear, all other SCO members have embraced the Chinese project.
    • India-Pakistan Rivalry: SCO members have, in the past, expressed fears of the organisation being held hostage to India’s and Pakistan’s adversarial relationship, and their fears would likely have worsened in recent times.

    Way Forward

    • Improving Connectivity With Central Asia: The opening of Chabahar port and entry into Ashgabat agreement should be utilized for a stronger presence in Eurasia besides a clear focus on operationalising International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
    • Improving Relations With China: It is imperative that India and China set up a modus vivendi (agreement allowing conflicting parties to coexist peacefully) for the 21st century to be viewed through the lens of an Asia century.
    • Improving Relation With Pakistan: SCO’s emphasis on promoting economic cooperation, trade, energy and regional connectivity should be leveraged to improve relations with Pakistan and persuade it to unblock India’s access to Eurasia and provide a fillip to projects like TAPI.
    • Strengthening Military Corporation: In the context of increasing terrorism in the region, it is imperative for SCO countries to develop a ‘cooperative and sustainable security’ framework and make the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure more effective.


    The strategy that should serve India’s regional interests to ensuring sustainable nation-building through development partnerships, maintaining sovereignty, preventing the region from being a hub of terrorism and extremism. At the same time, it is also in India’s interest that this region does not evolve into a geopolitical chessboard of new great game rivalries.

SMS Alerts
Share Page