Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part in the first-ever-virtual-summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO). Under the chairmanship of Russia, all the members and observer states joined the 20th Summit of SCO Council of heads of State via video conferencing.
Albeit virtually, this was the first time PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping were face to face after the deadly altercation between the Indian and Chinese armies at the LAC in mid-June. Recognising the vitality of a nation’s sovereignty and integrity, PM Modi took the opportunity to convey a message to both the neighbours, China and Pakistan, and said, “India believes that to further deepen connectivity, it is necessary to carry forward with the core principles of respecting each other's sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”
Leading the Indian delegation, PM Modi addressed the SCO Council where he highlighted the leading role played by India during the times of Covid-19 pandemic. He recounted the Indian Army’s contribution in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, and India’s Pharma Industry’s prominent role in providing support and relief through constant supplies after the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“Let us all stay happy and disease free. In this painful time of unprecedented pandemic, India's pharmaceutical industry helped more than 150 countries with essential medicines. As the world's largest vaccine producing country, India will use its vaccine production and distribution capacity to help the entire humanity in fighting this crisis,” he added.
While talking about the historical and cultural relationship India has with the SCO region, PM Modi also mentioned the initiative of holding first SCO cultural exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage by National Museum of India. He also talked about the upcoming SCO Food Festival to happen in India in 2021, and about the translation of ten Indian regional literary works into Russian and Chinese languages.
“I give my outright support to celebrate the 20th anniversary of SCO in the year 2021 as SCO Culture Year. The National Museum of India is in the process of organising the first SCO exhibition on our shared Buddhist heritage this year. The Literature Academy of India has completed the translation of ten Indian literary works in Russian and Chinese languages,” he said.
He presented the ideas of Atma-nirbhar Bharat (Self Reliant India) movement, and how it could add a ‘multiplier effect’ to the global economy in a post-pandemic world.
“I believe that Self-reliant India will prove to be a Force Multiplier for the global economy, and will accelerate the economic progress of the SCO region,” he further added.
While congratulating to the Russian President Vladimir Putin for calling the SCO virtual meet, PM Modi proposed for India to host the next regular virtual meeting of the SCO, next year.
The SCO is a regional and inter-governmental organisation formed in Shanghai, China in 2001. The members of former Shanghai Five Group - China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan - along with Uzbekistan established this regional body while calling it a ‘Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance’. It is headquartered in Beijing, China.
India and Pakistan joined the SCO as its full-fledged members in 2017 after being ‘observer states’ for more than a decade. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia are other observer states.
: Unlike the permanent members, these States do not possess the voting power, and cannot make any proposals. Though their participation in the summit is allowed, they do not have decision making powers.
The aim of the SCO is to maintain peace, security, and stability in the region by developing mutual trust and ‘neighbourliness’, co-operation in politics, culture, research & technology, and to share common goals in education, energy, and environmental protection.
The Council of Heads of States is the chief decision making body of the SCO, and it comprises of Presidents (in India and Pakistan’s case, their Prime Ministers) of the member States.
A body of the SCO is Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure which is established to combat separatism, extremism, and terrorism.