A new era of diplomacy
SCO opens new areas of collaborations for India with its Eurasian partners
Coming after almost a decade, India's membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is highly significant in the sense that the Eurasian body has opened up new avenues for regional cooperation and institution building. Most importantly, the SCO forum seeks to strengthen confidence and relations among neighbouring member countries. Additionally, it seeks cooperation in a number of fields like politics, economics, security, trade, energy, and transportation among others. For India, the membership is crucial for two reasons. First, one of the bloc's primary objectives is to promote cooperation on security-related issues viz, terrorism, separatism, and extremism. The scourge of global and regional terrorism is perhaps the most important security challenge to the world today. What is worse is the role played by certain nations who use terrorism as a state policy. Islamic State terrorism; the decade-long terror war in Afghanistan from the Taliban and cross-border terrorism emancipating from Pakistan pose security challenges to the SCO members. Second, the SCO membership will open up trade, energy and transit routes for India. This will mean India will get better economic access to the products of Central Asian countries. Simultaneously, India can find a market for its own products among the member countries of SCO.
The inclusion of both, India and Pakistan has, in fact, widened the scope of SCO itself which has expanded to the South Asian region now. From being just a regional bloc since it was formed, the SCO has gone on to include observers, dialogue partners and guests in its fold. In fact, the entire concept of the Eurasian body has been redefined so has its priorities. The SCO has moved beyond traditional boundaries and showcased willingness to respond to emerging threats and opened new avenues of cooperation. With two new entrants, the Eurasian organisation is all set to get a boost to expand its heft in regional geo-politics and trade negotiations. It seems today, ever since the Cold War, the emergence of new multilateral regional and international bodies have become the new norm. For India, an increased participation in such bodies will mean two things. First, a deepening on its international engagement, and making it more purposeful and determined. Second, it is also seeking to break new ground in areas that have been previously ignored for whatever reason. Though India today is a part of a host of multilateral forums and organisations but questions have been raised over its contributions to global diplomacy but there has been a gradual improvement. Under SCO, the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) will provide a good platform for countries to join hands in combating terrorism. India as a member in the SCO may also try to find solutions for its friend Afghanistan that has turned to be a battle ground. Joint militray exercises will lead to better coordination. In short, we are seeing an overall scaling up of the content and form of Indian diplomacy. The fresh Indian fervour at SCO will write a new chapter and there are reasons to hope that a new era in Indian diplomacy may finally be on the cards.
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