• Recently, Russian President chaired the 20th Summit of SCO Council of Heads of State held in virtual format



  • Highlighted the imperative of a reformed multilateralism to meet the expectation of a world suffering from social and financial after- effects of the pandemic
  • PM Modi retierated india’s firm belief in regional peace, security and prosperity and raising voice against terrorism smuggling of illegal weapons, drugs and money laundering.
  • Prime Minister underlined India’s strong cultural and historical connect with the SCO region and reiterated India’s firm commitment towards strengthening connectivity in the region with initiatives like International North-South Transport Corridor, Chabahar Port and Ashgabat Agreement
  • India extended full support to observing the 20th anniversary of SCO in 2021 as the “SCO Year of Culture.”
  • India announced that in 2021, the National Museum of India will hold an exhibition on the Buddhist heritage of the SCO countries.
  • India proposed to set up a Special Working Group on Innovation and Startups and a Sub Group on Traditional Medicine within SCO.


  • It is a permanent intergovernmental political, economic and military organization founded in Shanghai in 2001.
  • Regional development and security issues (terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism) are its main focus.
  • Russian and Mandarin are presently used as official and working languages in the SCO.
  • Working of the SCO is underpinned by the “SHANGHAI SPIRIT” which is about mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development.



  • Controlling regional terrorism: SCO’s defence-centric structures and activities of RATS have achieved considerable successes in curbing regional terrorism.
  • Participant in the political dynamics of Afghanistan: It is likely that after the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan SCO will start playing a more prominent role.The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group which was suspended in 2009 has also resumed working since 2017. Thus SCO would provide a platform to India for engaging in the Afghanistan’s political dynamics.
  • Political: At annual summit of the SCO India gets opportunity to renew bilateral ties with regional countries.

o The forum also provides India greater visibility in the affairs of the Eurasian region.

o India can also scuttle influence of Pakistan in Central Asia.

  • SCO also makes India an active key stakeholder in shaping the dynamics of politically fragile, Central Asian Region (CAR) which is also seen as a fertile ground for terrorism and drug trafficking.
  • Economic: CAR is rich in iron-ore, coal, oil, gas, gold, lead, zinc, molybdenum, uranium, gold, gas and energy etc. India’s economic diplomacy in SCO is focused less on Russia, China and Pakistan and more on CARs.
  • Connectivity: India’s pending energy projects like the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline, IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) pipeline, and CASA (Central Asia-South Asia)-1000 electricity transmission projects all of which are blocked due to Pakistan may get a much needed push through the SCO.



  • Dominance of China: SCO is a China dominated organisation. Barring India, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been endorsed by all the members. BRI is a concern for India as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) grossly violates India’s sovereignty. China may try to limit and balance India’s influence in the region by supporting Pakistan.
  • Controlling Pakistan Sponsored terrorism: China has always condoned Pakistan’s link with terrorist activities in India. SCO may not prove very effective in controlling Pakistan sponsored terrorism.
  • Trust deficit: Growing closeness of Russia and China adds to the difficulties that India faces due to China. Pakistan axis in the SCO. Other member countries are also well disposed towards Pakistan. This puts India at the risk of being isolated in the organization.
  • Lack of connectivity with Central Asia and beyond: A major impediment in connectivity with Central Asia and Eurasia remains the strategic denial of direct land connectivity between India and Afghanistan and beyond by Pakistan. India’s bilateral trade with Central Asia stands at about $2 billion against over $50 billion of China’s.



  • Maintain an independent voice against China’s dominance: On BRI India has articulated its view that connectivity projects must respect the sovereignty, and territorial integrity.


  • India-Russia diplomatic relations and India’s cultural and historical connect with the CAR could be leveraged for promoting India’s interests in the SCO.
  • Revitalise connectivity projects: The opening of Chabahar port and entry into Ashgabat agreement should be utilized for a stronger presence in Eurasia.
  • A clear focus on operationalizing International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is needed. This will pave the way for enlarging economic clout in the central Asia which in turn makes India indispensable in the region.
  • Constructively engage Pakistan: Recently Russia, at the request of the Indian, has decided not to enter into an arms relationship with Pakistan. India should mobilize opinion in the SCO to ensure its connectivity projects to extended neighbours are unblocked by Pakistan.
  • Play a constructive role: India could play a role in de-radicalisation of youths in Central Asia. It should also leverage its soft power to enhance its spheres of engagements in the field of culture, cuisine, education etc. This will ensure India does not get isolated in the organization.



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