The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organisation, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai, China.
- India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
- 8 Members: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India & Pakistan.
- 4 Observers: Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran & Mongolia.
- 6 Dialogue Partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka & Turkey.
- Cooperation on Security: The SCO is primarily centred on its member nations’ Central Asian security-related concerns, often describing the main threats it confronts as being terrorism, separatism and extremism. However, evidence is growing that its activities in the area of social development of its member states is increasing fast.
- Military Activities: Over the past few years, the organisation’s activities have expanded to include increased military cooperation, intelligence sharing, and counterterrorism.
- Economic Cooperation: Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are also members of the Eurasian Economic Union. A Framework Agreement to enhance economic cooperation was signed by the SCO member states on 23 September 2003.
- Cultural Cooperation: SCO members are keen on establishing good cultural relations amongst themselves through Art Festivals, Exhibitions, People-to-people contact etc.
- Relations with the West: Western media observers believe that one of the original purposes of the SCO was to serve as a counterbalance to NATO and in particular to avoid conflicts that would allow the United States to intervene in areas bordering both Russia and China.
- Geopolitical Aspects of SCO: Some analysts believe that one aim of SCO was to ensure that liberal democracy could not gain ground in these countries. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski’s theory, control of the Eurasian landmass is the key to global domination and control of Central Asia is the key to control of the Eurasian landmass. Russia and China have been paying attention to Brzezinski’s theory, since they formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001, ostensibly to curb extremism in the region and enhance border security, but most probably with the real objective of counterbalancing the activities of the United States and NATO in Central Asia”
BENEFITS FOR INDIA
- Larger Role in Central Asia
India’s relations with the countries in Central Asia have failed to realize the enormous potential. By becoming a full member, it will help India achieve the aim of regional integration and higher connectivity with the other member nations.
- Energy Security
India is likely to get greater access to major oil and gas projects in Central Asia as most of the SCO countries have huge reserves of oil and natural gas. India has already prioritized the construction of International North-South transport corridor which would be a multi-mode network of ship, rail and road route connecting India, Russia, Europe and Central Asia.
- Fight Against Terrorism
India is expecting security-related cooperation with the SCO through its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which deals with issues of security and defence.
- Trade Opportunities
The inclusion of India in the SCO is likely to open new trade opportunities along with cooperation in various other aspects like tourism, environmental protection, economy and research.
With the inclusion of India and Pakistan, the SCO will represent 40% of the world population and 20% of World’s GDP. This fact is evident that SCO members contribute massively to the world population and economy and would open a world of opportunities for India.