Home / News / India /  SCO Summit 2022 with PM Modi, Putin, Xi Jinping: All you need to know relevance, opportunities for India

The 22nd edition of the Shanghai Cooperation Summit is set to begin today (September 15). The two-day Summit will be held in the historical city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will be attending the crucial geopolitical event on Thursday. This would be the first in-person Summit of the Council of Heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States (SCO-CoHS), after the last one held in June 2019 in Bishkek. During the pandemic, the SCO Summit was held virtually, hosted by Russia (20202) and Tajikistan (2021).

While the presence of Jinping and Putin at the SCO Summit has attracted enough buzz in the media, the attendance of Prime Minister Modi becomes equally relevant in the backdrop of India assuming the rotational annual presidency of the SCO at the end of the Samarkand Summit in Uzbekistan.

India's role and opportunities in SCO Summit 2022:

India has resolutely called for the deepening of cooperation on regional security-related concerns, defence, countering terrorism, illicit drug trade, etc.

The SCO provides India with an opportunity to initiate multilateral and regional initiatives on counter-terrorism and deal with the illicit drug trade, which is now being used by its neighbours to inflict social wounds and target India's youth.

India, from the time of its full membership, made sincere efforts to encourage peace, prosperity, and stability of the whole Eurasian region in general and SCO member countries in particular.

SCO can also be a vocal platform for New Delhi to push the agenda of regional and cross-regional connectivity that could force Pakistan to moderate its views and approach to linking Central Asia and South Asia.

India can also push for the Chabahar port project and International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) during the Summit. India, Iran, and Uzbekistan also established a trilateral working group in 2020 to seek greater convergence on Chabahar port and other connectivity projects. Uzbekistan views the Chabahar port as an opportunity to diversify its export markets in oil and gas to control the ambitions of China.

India can also leverage its time-tested bilateral relations with Russia, Iran, and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) to enhance its role within the forum.

China used India-Pakistan hostility for its hegemonic pursuits. It also used the much-hyped Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to expand its commercial footprints in Central Asia, strategically located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) increased the geo-strategic, geo-economic, and security concerns of India.

CPEC cuts through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and violates India's sovereignty, forcing India to distance itself from the BRI. New Delhi can leverage the relationship with Russia, Iran, and CARs to challenge and checkmate the China-Pakistan axis.

Further, the changing regional and global security and economic context in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has necessitated closer regional cooperation in the areas like connectivity and energy. The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) could be a game-changer for SCO member-states as it will connect them with India and the Indian Ocean and diversify their trade partners and routes. The role of Iran will be critical in this regard.

The Shanghai Five, formed in 1996, became the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001 with the inclusion of Uzbekistan. With India and Pakistan entering the grouping in 2017 and the decision to admit Tehran as a full member in 2021, SCO became one of the largest multilateral organisations, accounting for nearly 30% of the global GDP and 40% of the world's population.

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