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How India can benefit from SCO

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a unique plurilateral grouping that holds two summits a year, one at the Heads of State and the other at the Heads of Government level. India will host the Heads of Government summit on November 30, following Moscow’s hosting of the former summit on November 10 — both conducted virtually. This will be India’s first time as host of a major SCO conference, having joined it as a full member in 2017.

SCO holds special fascination for India as the host nation. The grouping comprises India’s strategic partner and friend, Russia, two adversarial neighbours — China and Pakistan — and four important Central Asian Republics (CARs) — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. A rare blend of history, geopolitics, cultural, civilisational and economic imperatives connect India to Central Asia. New Delhi has a clear three-pronged policy approach — deepen ties with Russia; monitor and counter the influence of China and Pakistan; and expand cooperation with CARs. The Heads of State summit released a 19-page-long Moscow Declaration. It covers political and security issues; trade and economic cooperation; cultural, humanitarian and public exchanges; and international contacts. What, then, is left for the Council of Heads of Government to do at its November 30 meeting? This is the second-highest organ of SCO, with a dual mandate to decide on budgetary matters and devise details of economic cooperation.

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