The SCO Summit Comes at An Interesting Stage for the Indian Establishment!

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  • As you are aware, the geostrategic and geopolitical compulsions surrounding the global churnings are visible all around leading to the formation of alliances among like-minded countries. Needless to mention, strategies at the forefront for such countries will always be to further their interests first rather than pay platitudes about global well-being.  We are quite aware of those diplomatic cliches that often get bandied during formal and informal gatherings.  Of course, alliances always provide a level playing field for participants to push ahead with envisaged reforms in line with global occurrences.  The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is one such group involving India which comes at particularly tricky times vis-à-vis challenges confronting along the borders.

PC: Eleanor Albert

  • The 22nd summit of SCO is underway in Samarkand, Uzbekistan and the Prime Minister has made his presence felt already. The formal agenda includes stock-taking of SCO’s two-decade journey and talks on ways to enhance cooperation in the future.  Of greater significance are the bilateral meetings on the summit’s sidelines.  PM made it abundantly clear about meeting some of the attendees including the host president.   Now, SCO apparently is dominated by China, India, and Russia accounting for 40% of the global population and about 30% of its GDP, giving it heft among inter-government groupings.  Yes, a majority of SCO’s membership has a pronounced anti-Western position for obvious reasons.
  • Nonetheless, India’s participation in SCO makes sense as it’s in sync with its approach to strategic autonomy. As mentioned above, geopolitics today is in flux and India has done well to pursue a path of enlightened self-interest and seize opportunities.  To illustrate, India didn’t import crude oil from either Russia or the US in the April-June 2021 quarter.  In April-June 2022, in the aftermath of the Ukraine war, crude imports from Russia and the US were $6.2 billion and $2.6 billion respectively, propelling both into India’s top five sources of crude imports.  Given this context, a bilateral meeting between Modi and Putin, if it happens, will be crucial.  Nonetheless, likely gains from SCO will be limited on account of China.

PC: Scroll Staff

  • Remember Modi and Xi have not had a face-to-face meeting since the PLA’s aggression in eastern Ladakh in 2020. Further, also present at the summit is Pakistan’s new PM Sharif.  Given the structural nature of disputes India has with both China and Pakistan, bilateral meetings on the summit sidelines are inadequate to make meaningful progress.  Indeed, SCO is a reminder of the need to be pragmatic in diplomacy as even adversaries cannot decouple economically on flimsy grounds.  Thus, India’s pursuit of strategic autonomy and investing in areas where there is an overlap of interests between countries is a wise course in a fluid geopolitical situation.  In conclusion, the more groups you are part of, the wider your options will be.