SCO Summit: What’s in It for New Delhi?


The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit serves as a pivotal platform for diplomatic engagement and regional cooperation among its member states. For New Delhi, participation in the SCO Summit represents not just an opportunity to strengthen ties with neighboring countries but also a strategic move towards enhancing its influence in Eurasian geopolitics.

Background and Significance

India became a full member of the SCO in 2017, marking a significant milestone in its foreign policy objectives. The SCO, originally founded in 2001, comprises eight member states: China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and India. The organization focuses on issues such as security, economic cooperation, cultural exchanges, and counterterrorism efforts in the region.

Strategic Objectives for New Delhi

  1. Regional Connectivity and Economic Cooperation: India sees the SCO as a platform to enhance connectivity and economic cooperation with Central Asian countries. Initiatives such as the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the Chabahar Port project underline India’s efforts to boost trade and connectivity in the region.
  2. Counterterrorism and Security Cooperation: As a victim of cross-border terrorism, India actively participates in SCO initiatives aimed at countering terrorism, extremism, and separatism. Cooperation through platforms like the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) helps India strengthen its security apparatus and intelligence sharing mechanisms.
  3. Multilateral Diplomacy and Regional Stability: The SCO Summit allows India to engage in multilateral diplomacy, addressing regional challenges and promoting stability. Discussions on Afghanistan, for instance, are crucial for India’s strategic interests in the region and its role in ensuring peace and stability post-U.S. withdrawal.
  4. Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges: Beyond political and economic aspects, the SCO promotes cultural exchanges and people-to-people ties among member states. India’s rich cultural heritage and diversity find resonance in SCO cultural initiatives, fostering mutual understanding and goodwill among member nations.

Key Agenda Items at the SCO Summit

  • Economic Cooperation: Discussions on enhancing trade, investment, and connectivity through SCO platforms and projects.
  • Security and Counterterrorism: Coordination on regional security challenges and measures to combat terrorism and extremism.
  • Afghanistan and Regional Stability: Dialogue on the evolving situation in Afghanistan and efforts towards peace and stability in the region.
  • Cultural and Humanitarian Initiatives: Promoting cultural exchanges, education, and scientific cooperation among member states.

Counterterrorism and Security Cooperation

Security remains a key area of concern for SCO member states, particularly in countering terrorism, extremism, and separatism. For New Delhi, participating in the SCO Summit provides an opportunity to collaborate on regional security issues, share intelligence, and strengthen joint efforts to combat transnational threats. India’s active involvement in SCO-led counterterrorism exercises and joint military drills underscores its commitment to regional security and stability.

Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges

Beyond politics and economics, the SCO Summit facilitates cultural exchanges and people-to-people interactions among member nations. India’s rich cultural heritage and soft power diplomacy find expression through initiatives such as SCO cultural festivals, educational exchanges, and tourism promotion. These exchanges foster mutual understanding, bridge cultural gaps, and lay the groundwork for lasting friendships among diverse societies within the SCO framework.

Regional Cooperation and Multilateralism

Participation in the SCO Summit reaffirms India’s commitment to multilateralism and cooperative diplomacy. By engaging constructively with SCO member states and observer nations, New Delhi advocates for a rules-based international order, respects sovereignty, and promotes inclusive development across the Eurasian region. India’s voice at the summit resonates on issues of global importance, from climate change to sustainable development, underscoring its role as a responsible global stakeholder.


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