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Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 21, May 16, 2015

On India’s Participation in SCO Summit at the Highest Level

Saturday 16 May 2015

by Michael Todd

The next summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is going to be held at Ufa, Russia on July 9-10, 2015. This will take place along with the summit of the BRICS (an acronym standing for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) there.

The SCO is an intergovernmental inter-national organisation founded in Shanghai, China on June 15, 2001 by six countries—China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its observer states are Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan. Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka are the partners in dialogue. The SCO member-states cover an area of more than 30 million square kilometres or about three-fifths of Eurasia with a 1.455 billion population, about a quarter of the world’s total.

The coming SCO summit in Russia will offer a unique opportunity for India to enhance its influence in the region and ensure its involve-ment in the development of regional infra-structure as well as other economic projects relating to energy, trade, roadways and railway links.

Politically what is noteworthy is that given the US plans to leave Afghanistan and the obvious inability of the Western states to maintain stability there, the SCO could emerge as a key player in the final Afghan settlement.

Active participation in the SCO initiatives can help India to secure its national interests and in the process counter the one-sided approach of China and its ally, Pakistan.

Even without full membership of the Organi-sation, New Delhi can safeguard its interests in the international structure if the country is represented at the highest level in the SCO. The forthcoming summit is no less important for India’s global policy than several other world events wherein the PM has participated after taking charge. So his personal participation is vitally necessary to pursue India’s basic interests and strengthen the country’s bid for full membership of the SCO.