International Relations

PM Modi will host the SCO 2023 Summit

  • In the current geopolitical backdrop, the impending virtual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is critical.
  • Former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) official and ambassador to various countries, Ashok Sajjanhar, provides his thoughts on the event and its probable implications.

What exactly is SCO?

  • SCO is a non-profit organisation that was created in 2001.
  • Its primary goal is to promote cooperation and regional stability among its member countries.
  • The Shanghai Five mechanism, founded in 1996 to resolve border conflicts and foster mutual trust among China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, gave rise to the SCO.
  • Uzbekistan joined the organisation in 2001, which resulted in the foundation of the SCO.
Member StatesChina, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan
ObjectivesPromote regional security, stability, economic cooperation
Cooperation AreasPolitical, security, economic, cultural
Security CooperationJoint military exercises, counter-terrorism operations, intelligence sharing
Economic CooperationTrade facilitation, investment, infrastructure development
Key BodiesSCO Summit, SCO Business Council, Interbank Consortium of the SCO
Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS)Coordination of anti-terrorism efforts
Dialogue PartnersAfghanistan, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia, among others
Observer StatesArmenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, among others
Outreach and EngagementUnited Nations, ASEAN, CIS, and other regional/international organizations

The Meeting’s Importance

  • During the Russia-Ukraine War significant Participants: The summit is likely to include significant leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
  • Russia’s waning Influence: The meeting allows President Putin to assess Russia’s waning influence and importance, notably in Central Asian countries.
  • Message for Resolution: Russia’s diminished presence in the region may signal the necessity for a quick resolution to the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Strategic autonomy and self-assurance in India

  • Prime Minister Modi’s recent successful visit to the United States illustrates the expansion of India-US relations.
  • India’s Place in the SCO: India’s membership in the SCO while maintaining strong connections with the US demonstrates its strategic autonomy and self-assurance.

The Importance of Prime Minister Modi’s Statement to Mr. Putin

  • Asserting India’s Position: “This is not the era of war,” Prime Minister Modi said, demonstrating India’s ability to talk with President Putin.
  • Influencing Diplomatic Results: The statement aided in the passage of the Bali G20 summit declaration and demonstrated India’s role as a bridge builder between Russia and the West.

Consequences for India-China Relations

  • Impact on Border deadlock: The virtual meeting will have little immediate impact on the India-China border deadlock.
  • Multiple rounds of discussions have taken place between India and China, but there has been limited progress in de-escalation and disengagement at crucial areas.
  • Snub to Pakistan: As in the past, India’s firm stance on cross-border terrorism is likely to be reinforced throughout the negotiations.

Central Asian outreach:

  • India has historical and cultural ties with Central Asian countries and seeks to deepen cooperation in the region.
  • Neglected Participation: Following the fall of the Soviet Union, India’s engagement with these countries was hampered by a lack of direct access through Pakistan’s territory.
  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as a Platform: India’s SCO membership allows for contact at many levels and provides possibilities to improve ties with Central Asian countries.


  • The SCO virtual summit provides India with an important opportunity to connect with key regional entities and raise its reputation and prominence in Central Asia.
  • The summit’s accomplishments, including the adoption of papers on a variety of issues, will help India advance its interests, develop commercial connections, and encourage investment in the area.
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