Editorial✍ Hindu Edi Prelims cum Mains

Navigations in Bishkek

India at SCO summit must navigate carefully:
  • The 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit is happening in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
  • At the summit, India will have to navigate between   
    • On one hand, India must act as a willing partner of regional cooperation led by China and Russia.
    • On the other hand, India must avoid being seen as a part of the ‘anti-American gang’.
Issues to navigate
Trade war:
  • Russia and Central Asian countries are likely to broadly express support for China in its escalating tariff fight against the U.S.
  • India is equally concerned about this trade war, but it might not join the others in slamming U.S. protectionism.
  • New Delhi is seemingly confident of dealing with the U.S. without necessarily supporting China.
  • All SCO members barring India are enthusiastic supporters of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • India has consistently been opposed to the BRI over sovereignty and debt concerns.
  • Terrorism is likely to be approached from the angle of improving the situation in Afghanistan and not necessarily of curbing the terrorist elements emanating from Pakistan.
  • It could also be seen as a paradox that India wants to fight against terrorism through a body like SCO that includes states like Pakistan that pose the biggest threats to Indian security.
  • China might offer its experiences of dealing with counterterrorism, and the deradicalisation measures it has taken in Xinjiang.
Significant meetings on the sidelines
Modi’s meet with Xi:
  • Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with Chinese President Xi on the sidelines of the summit will be critical.
  • This meeting also comes after China’s decision to withdraw its technical hold on listing Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • A key concern for the two leaders is the impact of the U.S.-China trade war.
  • Both sides also seem to be gearing up for a big settlement of pending bilateral issues.
Modi’s meet with Putin:
  • Mr. Modi’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is important to save the S-400 deal against Washington’s mounting threat to act under CAATSA.
  • India and Russia have an ambitious economic agenda drawn up for 2019.
  •  The Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in Russia, to which Mr. Modi has been invited as chief guest, would be a good opportunity for India to explore Russia’s Far East region not just for developing economic cooperation but also for exploring the prospects of transferring skilled labourers to offset Chinese demographic threats in the region.
  • Russia is also keen that India joins the Arctic: Territory of Dialogue Forum.
What India will do
  • India may stick to its position on BRI, but accelerating progress on the International North-South Transport Corridor, the Chabahar Port, the Ashgabat Agreement and the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway should be very much on the cards.
Against Terrorism:
  • India seems committed to work within the SCO to develop a ‘cooperative and sustainable security’ framework, to make the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) more effective, and participate in efforts to bring about stability in Afghanistan.
  • Mr. Modi is certain to bring up India’s resolve to fight terrorism by drawing the SCO’s attention to the attacks in Pulwama and Sri Lanka. But China would not like India to use the SCO to name and shame Pakistan.
  • To be sure, none of the institutional-level measures including the joint SCO military exercises have so far entailed any satisfactory results in jointly fighting against terrorism.
For UNSC reform:
  • India has been lending support to the member countries’ candidatures for non-permanent membership of the UNSC for a long time.
  • The SCO remains  relevant for India to garner support for reforms of the UNSC to make the latter more representative and effective.
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GS Paper II: International Relations
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