The question “Virus of Conflict is affecting the functioning of the SCO.' In the light of the above statement, point out the role of India in mitigating the problems." was asked in the Mains 2023 GS Paper 2. Let us look at the model answer to this question.
Answer: The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which was established in 2001, has expanded to include countries with populations equal to roughly half of the global total. However, internal conflicts frequently stand in the way of the military cooperation, mutual trust, and shared development that it seeks to achieve.
‘Virus of Conflict’ is affecting the functioning of the SCO
- Bilateral Tensions:
- Tensions between India and Pakistan due to historical animosity and disputes like Kashmir.
- Border disputes and mistrust between China and India, especially after the 2017 Doklam standoff.
- Conflict in resource sharing:
- China has disputes over large areas of land with several Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
- Water sharing and border issues between Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
- Terrorism: There is a lack of agreement among Central Asian countries on how to handle threats to regional security from Afghanistan’s rising extremism.
- Great power rivalry: The SCO is seen by some as a platform for great power rivalry between China and Russia. This can make it difficult for the SCO to reach consensus on important issues.
Role of India in mitigating the problems
- Promote dialogue and cooperation: India can leverage its diplomatic capabilities to encourage dialogue and cooperation among SCO member states, especially on security and counter-terrorism issues.
- For example, the Heart of Asia conference, where India and Pakistan jointly participated, can be a model for constructive dialogue within the SCO framework.
- Connectivity initiatives: India has also been actively involved in the Ashgabat Agreement, which seeks to establish an International transport and transit corridor connecting Central Asia to South Asia and the Middle East.
- Anti-Terrorism Initiatives: India has also participated in joint military exercises with other SCO member states. These exercises help to build trust and cooperation among SCO militaries and improve their ability to respond to regional security threats.
- For example, "Peaceful Mission" series of exercises.
- Multilateralism: India's commitment to multilateralism and its long history of peaceful coexistence with its neighbors make it well-positioned to promote dialogue and cooperation among SCO member states.
- For example, PM Narendra Modi expressed India's commitment to a rules-based international order at the 2019 Bishkek summit.
- Promote cultural exchanges: Cultural exchanges and people-to-people interactions can help to foster mutual understanding and reduce tensions.
- For example, India hosted the SCO Food Festival in 2019 in New Delhi.
India can certainly play a key role in bridging gaps within the SCO through its elements of Panchsheel and Non-Alignment. India can help reroute the SCO's trajectory towards its founding principles of trust and mutual benefit by infusing its engagements with practical initiatives and a cooperative spirit.