[Answered] Critically examine the aims and objectives of SCO. What importance does it hold for India?

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization found in Shanghai, with the objective of political, economic and security cooperation between the member nations. India became a permanent member of the SCO in 2017.  

The aims and objectives of the SCO includes the following: 

  1. To strengthen the relations between member states, by deepening political, security and economic cooperation. 
  2. To strive for joint cooperation between the members to confront threats emanating from terrorism, extremism and separatism. 
  3. SCO aims to move towards developing a democratic and equitable international political order.  
  4. To ensure joint efforts in maintaing peace, security and stability in the region. 
  5. To deepen engagements in field of trade/commerce, transport, tourism, environment, cultural linkages, education, research and technology. 

A critical examination of aims and objectives of SCO is presented below: 

  1. India-Pakistan-Russia-China relations create a complex matrix of diverging and conflicting interests. For example: different interests in Taliban-Afghanistan. 
  2. China has shown little respect to international rule-based order. Cheque-book and wolf warrior diplomacy, Human rights violations and ‘re-education’ camps, HongKong issue etc. raise serious questions on Chinese commitments to aims and objectives of SCO.  
  3. Under the disguise of economic co-operation, China has pushed its BRI project through SCO. 
  4. Pakistan and China are known to have supported terrorist and separatist organizations raising questions on RATS mechanism. China, Russia (Ukraine issue) and Pakistan are accused of destabilizing the regional peace, security and stability. 
  5. Limited developmental cooperation between SCO countries during COVID waves shows lack of broad-based engagement. 

The SCO, as a regional inter-governmental organization holds following importance for India: 

  1. SCO allows India to deepen its strategic reach in Central Asia. India already has substantial soft power potential (Buddhist linkages, Bollywood movies etc.)  in Central Asia, which it can exploit through SCO.  
  2. India’s membership of SCO can boost energy security by providing access to mineral and energy resources of the Central Asian countries. The membership, with its emphasis in trade relations, provide an inroad for the Indian investors to explore the untapped market potential in the Central Asian region. For example, FICCI hosted the SCO Business Conclave. 
  3. SCO can provide a platform to discuss bilateral issues with Pakistan and China.  
  4. SCO can play a pivotal role in combating terrorism, extremism and radicalization. For example, Dushanbe declaration, aims towards regional stability. 
  5. India’s presence in the SCO will help in India’s aim to link itself to the larger Eurasian region, and to Europe via an INSTC. Thus, boosting connectivity in the region. SCO can play an important role in deepening people to people engagement through cooperation in the field of education, medicine, tourism etc. 

The inimical acts of Pakistan, border dispute with China etc., factors could minimize the positive outcomes from SCO. In this light India’s SECURE strategy should be adopted to make SCO more effective in regional growth and stability. 

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