India to become full member of SCO; Modi departs to attend summit on June 8-9

India to become full member of SCO; Modi departs to attend summit on June 8-9

During the summit, Pakistan will also become a full member of the SCO.

The Dollar Business Bureau

Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Kazakhstan on Thursday to attend the two-day summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

During the summit to be held on June 8-9 in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, India is set to become a member of the SCO.

The Prime Minister will also attend the inauguration of the Astana Expo 2017 on Friday which is based on the theme of ‘Future Energy’ this year.

“At this meeting, on completion of the process, India will become a full Member of the SCO upon which SCO will represent over 40% of humanity and nearly 20% of global GDP,” the PM wrote.

“We launched the process of full membership in Tashkent meeting of the SCO last year. I look forward to deepening India’s association with the SCO which will help us in economic, connectivity and counter-terrorism cooperation, among other things,” he wrote.

Briefing the media on Wednesday, Gopal Baglay, Spokesperson at Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, “India will be benefited in economic and trade activity after it becomes a full member of the SCO.”

Trade, energy, banking, connectivity and fight against terrorism are the key cooperation areas, he said.

During the summit, Pakistan will also become a full member of the Organisation and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend the event.

India and Pakistan, after becoming members, will participate in joint military exercises with other SCO nations. These joint military exercises are conducted by Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which the two nations have to follow once they join the grouping.

There is a possibility that PM Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping would have a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Astana summit. However, no meeting has been scheduled between PM Modi and his Pakistani counterpart.

Since 2005, India had the status of an observer country at SCO and in 2014, it had applied for full membership.

The SCO, a grouping born at the of the Cold War in 1996, presently has six members namely China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, with its headquarters in China’s capital, Beijing.

India becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization could be geopolitically beneficial. It will help in improving the somewhat fractious relationship between China and India for a while especially after the snub that India gave to China by not accepting China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) mega meet invitation in May. India needs China as it is the only multilateral security entity bent on blocking India’s entry to the UN. China on its part is keen to be a part of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). India also gains by furthering its ties with the mineral and energy-rich Central Asian countries, that are still deeply underdeveloped, marking an opportunity for Indian construction firms which China has recognised.

If India wants to play a major role in regional geopolitics, its leadership has to effectively capitalise the opportunities that Central Asia offers by following through with its promised offers to the region.