OpEd – India’s Pivot to Eurasia

OpEd - India's Pivot to Eurasia (The Hindu)

SCO Summit :-

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit held in Qingdao, China. It was the first SCO summit attended by India as a full-fledged member (It has been an observer since 2005.)

SCO Background :-

  • The SCO grew out of the Shanghai Five grouping — of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan — which was set up in 1996 to resolve boundary disputes between China and each of the four other members.
  • It admitted Uzbekistan in 2001, re-christened itself the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and broadened its agenda to include political, economic and security cooperation.
  • It admitted India and Pakistan as full members in 2017.

SCO Expansion :- With the admission of India and Pakistan

  • It has expanded the geographical, demographic and economic profile of the SCO, which now has about half the world’s population and a quarter of its GDP.
  • Its boundary extends southwards to the Indian Ocean.

India-Central Asian Countries Relations :-

India’s relations with Central Asian countries has been constrained by lack of overland access through Pakistan and Afghanistan/Iran, because of political and/or security reasons.

SCO’s relevance for India :- It lies in geography, economics and geopolitics.

  • Its members occupy a huge landmass adjacent to India’s extended neighbourhood, where India has important economic and security interests.
  • With Pakistan joining the Organisation and Afghanistan and Iran knocking on the doors for membership, the logic of India’s membership becomes stronger as it will help India to strengthen relations with neighbours’ neighbours.
  • The Central Asian countries would welcome India breaking into this Russia-China duopoly. If India manages to carve out a political and economic space for itself in Central Asia through SCO, alongside Russia’s role as net security provider and China’s dominating economic presence.

India-Pakistan Rapprochement through SCO :-

  • The SCO will, however, nudge both countries to cooperate in sensitive areas. One example is the :- Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO, which coordinates cooperation for security and stability, through intelligence-sharing on criminal and terrorist activities.
  • Defence cooperation is another tricky area: enhanced linkages between armed forces is an SCO objective.
  • India has agreed to participate in the SCO’s counter-terrorism military exercises in Russia later this year, when Indian and Pakistani troops will operate together.
  • Reconciling Indian and Pakistani perspectives in the SCO’s initiatives on Afghanistan would be yet another challenge.

Non-Western Perspectives :- The SCO is a platform for articulating a non-Western — as distinct from anti-Western — perspective on global issues. This includes

  • Opposition to selective advocacy of regime change
  • Self-serving homilies on human rights
  • Intrusive advice on domestic policies.

It suits India that the SCO is not stridently anti-West in its pronouncements. Russia and China also carefully avoid strong anti-West postures in the SCO, preferring to deal with differences quietly and bilaterally.

Challenges Remain for India :-

  • Security and defence cooperation with Pakistan
  • Second, Increasing Chinese dominance of the SCO. This could happen if Russia-U.S. relations worsen further, leading Russia to an even greater dependence on Chinese political and economic support.
  • Third, U.S.-North Korea summit If, as Mr. Trump has hinted, peace in the Korean peninsula leads to reduced American military presence in the region, it would dramatically change the balance of forces in the Asia-Pacific in favour of China. This would transform Eurasian dynamics, with an inevitable impact on SCO.

( Source :- The Hindu )

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