India historically has a close relationship with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries which is based on mutual trust and goodwill, the main pillars of India’s multi-dimensional foreign policy. India’s strong and vibrant modern day engagement with the SCO countries facilitated India’s smooth entry into the organisation. India was granted Observer Status in SCO in 2005 which was later elevated to full membership in 2017. The more than a decade-long association with SCO underscores India’s willingness to play a proactive role in the organisation.
India has been actively participating in SCO and has been providing substantial support to various mechanisms in the forum. After its accession, India is focusing on initiating proposals for the mutual benefit of SCO Member States, Observers and Dialogue Partners. India’s extensive engagement in SCO has contributed to further enhancing the role and authority of SCO in international arena.
India has ensured that various meetings and events of SCO are represented at appropriate level. While the SCO Council of Heads of State (CHS) meetings are attended by Prime Minister, the SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG) meetings are usually represented by External Affairs Minister (EAM). India has also participated in Ministerial meetings and other dialogue formats and has contributed positively in advancing SCO’s agenda. To augment India’s contribution to the day-to-day activities of SCO, India has deputed two officers each to the SCO Secretariat (Beijing) and SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (Tashkent).
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated in the SCO Summits in 2018 (Qingdao), 2019 (Bishkek) and 2020 (virtual format) at which he had put forward a number of important proposals aimed at further deepening cooperation in ensuring regional security, strengthening economic ties and promoting cultural and humanitarian cooperation. PM Modi’s remarks at the SCO Summit on 10 November 2020 can be found here.
Former EAM Smt. Sushma Swaraj, represented India at the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meetings in 2018 (Beijing) and 2019 (Bishkek). She also represented India at the CHG meeting in 2018 (Dushanbe). Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh attended the CHG Meeting in 2019 (Tashkent).
High-level meetings in 2020:
EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar participated in the extraordinary virtual meeting of SCO CFM on 13 May to discuss Covid-19 pandemic situation. Minister of Health & Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan attended the SCO Health Ministers virtual meeting on 24 July. Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh participated in the SCO Defence Ministers meeting held in Moscow on 4 September. EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar attended the SCO CFM meeting in Moscow on 9-10 September. Minister of Culture Shri Prahlad S. Patel participated in the SCO Culture Ministers virtual meeting on 10 September. National Security Adviser Shri Ajit Doval attended the virtual meeting of SCO Council of Secretaries of Security Council on 15 September. Minister for Law & Justice, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, hosted the 7th Meeting of SCO Justice Ministers on 16 October. MoS for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Parshottam Rupala, attended the virtual meeting of SCO Agriculture Ministers on 21 October. CIM Shri Piyush Goyal chaired the 19th meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Economic and Foreign Trade on 28 October 2020.
India’s chairmanship of CHG:
Hon’ble Vice President Shri Venkaiah Naidu chaired the 19th Meeting of the SCO CHG hosted by India in the virtual format on November 30, 2020. This was the first time that a Summit-level Meeting was held under India’s Chairmanship, since it gained full-membership of the organization in 2017. The meeting ended with the adoption of a Joint Communique.
During the course of it’s chairmanship of CHG, India undertook lot of initiatives in a wide range of areas. India hosted a Preparatory Seminar on Startup Forum on 11 August (virtual), first-ever meeting of Consortium of Economic Think-Tanks on 21-22 August (virtual), Seminar on Role of Traditional Medicine in achieving SDG-3 in SCO Countries on 22 September (virtual), Young Scientists Conclave on 24-28 November (virtual), SCO Business Conclave on 23 November (virtual), and Exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage on 30 November. India also translated 10 classics of Indian regional literature into Russian and Chinese languages. These events witnessed enthusiastic participation of SCO Member States.
In addition to the two Ministerial meetings – Justice and Foreign Trade & Economy – hosted by India before the CHG meeting, India also launched the SCO Startup Forum, and initiated proposals on establishing Special Working Group on Innovation & Startups, and setting up Sub-group on Traditional Medicine.