Issues for India for SCO summit

Nitya Chakraborty

India is expected to make its presence felt in a proactive manner as the new full member at the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at Astana in Kazakhstan in June 2017. At the last SCO summit, India and Pakistan were admitted as full members and India is now willing to make use of this membership by focusing on both regional security issues as also expanding collaboration in energy resources. India has got good relations with all the original six members of SCO-China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. This will help India in making its position on relationship with the other new member Pakistan, clear to the member countries. India is hopeful that its views on combating terrorism in the region will get support at the SCO summit.
The host country Kazakhstan is making elaborate arrangements to make a success of the Astana summit. Kazakh President N. Nazarbayev has noted that the agenda for the Astana summit will include regional security, development of economic cooperation, collaboration in transit and transport building facilities and deepening of cultural and humanitarian ties. The regional security issue is important since the Afghanistan’s future political shape is yet to be decided and with Donald Trump taking over as the President of the United States, the SCO members will make a fresh appraisal of the security situation in the light of the policies to be persued by the new US President. Since the summit is due on June 8 and 9 this year, the SCO members are getting clear four and half months to watch and assess the policies of the Trump regime affecting the SCO members.
For India also, it’s moves at the SCO summit will be influenced by the nature of the US policies on Afghanistan, Pakistan and China. India is specifically keen to know whether the new US President takes a strict position towards Pakistan regarding the fight against the jehadis and compels Pakistan to take firm measures against the camps which are being used to launch operations in Jammu & Kashmir. President Trump has talked of intensifying the battle against ISIS in cooperation with Russia and other forces and this fits in line with the Indian position. The ISIS has spread its tentacles in India and in many Indian cities, there are ISIS supporters which is a threat to India’s security. India is in favour of total unity of the anti-ISIS forces to defeat the ISIS and to eliminate this jehadi group.
The SCO has strict membership rules for new members. The SCO at its 2010 summit approved rules on accepting new members. According to the rules, the SCO new members must be Eurasian nations, have diplomatic relations with all current member states and have either observer or dialogue partner status. However, the rules stipulate that they would be member countries must not be subject to UN sanctions and not be involved in any armed conflict. That way, it will take some more time for Iran to be considered for SCO membership as per rules though the major members are interested in Iran.
For India, SCO membership offers the country a big opportunity to have a bigger say on issues like combating terrorism and participation in major oil and gas projects in central Asia. India is having good relations with the central Asian countries and these have been further strengthened after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in July 2015. The full membership of SCO will enable India to deepen the economic relations with these four countries of central Asia who are full members of SCO.
Both China and Russia have invested heavily in the resources rich region of central Asia. India is also talking with a number of CA countries for investment in oil and gas fields. The SCO Business Council, Interbank Consortium and the Energy Club are steering the course of collaboration and cooperation among the member states of SCO. India will get more facilities as a full member and that will help India in getting favourable terms from the resources rich central Asian states. India has to work for its energy security which means arranging secured oil production from the oil fields where it will have stake.
Russian President Putin is working for a massive expansion in connectivity in the region and he has specially mentioned linking Baikal Amur mainline TranSiberian railroad with Western China – Europe Transport Corridor. Simultaneously, Chinese President has underlined the need for Old Silk Road project which has got big interest for India. Following the setting up of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank of BRICS, the funds will be available for big projects in the region and the Indian companies can take advantage of that by bidding for major projects in the region.SCO membership may step up business opportunities as SCO and BRICS will act in unison and India can help many developing countries in setting up projects with aid from AIIB or NDB.
That way, SCO membership is a major opportunity for India and India is ready to take full advantage of this delayed membership by interacting with the other full members in a decisive manner so that India’s political and economic interests are served best. The global situation is also favouring India much more compared to the other Asian countries and this opportunity India wants to make use fully. (IPA)

Thursday, 16 March, 2017