Editorial✍ Live Mint Prelims cum Mains

Shanghai Cooperation Organization: The quest for multilateralism

Dynamic international order:
  • Many of the economic and political issues challenging countries across the world are essentially both global and regional.
  • The forces of globalization and regionalization are continuously restructuring the prevailing international economic order.
Multilateralism needed to deal with it:
  • International problems, especially sustaining rules for trade and investment, inherently involve numerous countries concurrently.
  • These international problems cannot be dealt with effectively within the national domain or even bilaterally.
  • In this context, multilateralism provides the most holistic structure for political and economic relations in the world.
  • In the past seven decades, there have been abundant developments on multilateral action to create fair, just and lasting solutions to critical matters of peace and political, economic and social security.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
The Beginning
  • It started off as the “Shanghai 5” in 1996 for security and border peace between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia and Tajikistan.
The Expansion:
  • It metamorphosed into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which today has an ambitious regional and global vision, coupled with a strong economic mandate.
  • Its membership has further expanded last year to include India and Pakistan which now makes this a powerful and strategic regional grouping.
  • It now accounts for 40% of the world’s population, almost 20% of its gross domestic product (GDP) and 22% of the world’s land mass.
Upcoming Summit with India as full member:
  • The SCO Summit in Qingdao, China will happen soon, where SCO heads of state and government will meet.
  • India had historic ties with the grouping as an observer over the past 12 years
  • But this is the first time that India will participate as a full member of this grouping.
Key goals of the SCO:
  • Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness
  • Promoting effective cooperation in trade, research, energy, transport, education, tourism etc.
  • Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region
  • Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order
India and SCO:
Significance of SCO for India:
  • For India, membership of this grouping will strengthen its relations with Central Asian republics and provide a new opportunity to pursue the “Connect Central Asian Policy”.
  • The goals of the SCO prove that the its sustenance as an effective multilateral organization will also significantly benefit the consolidation and expansion of bilateral relationships with Russia and China.
  • The sum of their multilateral interactions will be greater than the sum of their bilateral interactions and engagements.
  • In this sense, the SCO platform provides new meaning for its member countries.
India must be at forefront of multilateral processes:
  • India has been at the forefront of engaging with numerous world powers, multilateral institutions as well as regional groupings.
  • India’s ability to endure and confidently influence multilateral processes is important in its emergence as a great power.
  • In this context, it is essential to take note of the developments and way forward for India at SCO.
India’s role at the SCO:
  • India’s interest in seeking membership of this multilateral grouping shows that foreign policy will no longer be driven by political necessities alone, but also by economic diplomacy.
  • In line with the foreign policy priorities of India on SCO countries, the aim should be to further enhance connectivity.
    • For example, connectivity through Chabahar will help India’s trade and economic relations with Central Asian republics.
  • Other sectors, such as education, tourism and even medical tourism, can be focused upon to further strengthen the SCO platform.
  • Indian industry has the responsibility of guiding the country’s engagement with SCO member countries to deepen the ecosystem with this multilateral grouping.
GS Paper II: International Relations

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