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Q. SCO has emerged as a key regional organisation in the Eurasian space. In the light of the statement discuss the opportunity for India to fulfil its national interest. (250 Words)14 Sep, 2021 GS Paper 2 International Relations
- Introduce with explaining in brief about the SCO as an important organization in the Eurasian landscape.
- Discuss how SCO provides opportunity for India to fulfil its national interests.
- Highlight some issues with the group and suggest a way forward the same.
In less than two decades, Shanghai Cooperation Orgnisation (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.
India’s Opportunities and SCO
- Regional Security: SCO will enable India, as an integral part of the Eurasian security grouping, to neutralise threats like religious extremism and terrorism in the region.
- It is due to this, India has shown keen interest in deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
- Connect With Central Asia: SCO is also a potential platform to advance India’s Connect Central Asia policy.
- India’s ongoing engagement with SCO can be seen through the prism of reconnecting and re-energising ties with a region with which India has shared civilizational linkages, and is considered the country’s extended neighbourhood.
- 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 Afghanistan: SCO, also an alternative regional platform to delve into the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan.
- So far India completed 500 projects in Afghanistan and is continuing with some more, with a total development aid of $3 billion.
- Strategic Importance: 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
- Difference Over BRI: While India has made its opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRO) 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.
- 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 Relations 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 SCO member countries should develop joint institutional capacities that respect individual national sensitivities and yet generate a spirit of cooperation to create contact and connectivity between people, societies and nations.
- Member countries should realise that they have collective stakes to create a safe, secure and stable region that can contribute towards progress and improvement of human development indices.
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