An organisation called “Shanghai five” was founded in 1996 by the leaders of China (Beijing), Kazakhstan (Astana), Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek), Russia (Moscow) and Tajikistan (Dushanbe).
In the year 2001, Uzbekistan (Tashkent) joined and the political, economic and military organisation was renamed as Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Afghanistan(Kabul), Belarus (Minsk), India (New Delhi), Iran (Tehran), Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar) and Pakistan (Islamabad) are observers.
In 2015, the member countries decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members and are slated to join in 2016.
Where is the 2016 annual summit of SCO?
The 2-day annual summit of the SCO began on 23rd June in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.
Highlights of the summit
It has been confirmed by the GoI that a long -drawn process lies ahead for India to complete its entry into the SCO.
India will attend the summit as an “Acceding Member” and will speak from the category of “Observers”.
At this summit, the process of India’s accession to the SCO will start with a signature on a base document which is called the “Memorandum of Obligations”.
The Memorandum will begin a process of more intense engagement. It will also provide opportunity to intensify anti-terror cooperation between India and China.
How will the membership benefit India?
- If India and Pakistan are admitted to the SCO, it will help improve the ties between both the countries, and thus contribute to peace and development in the subcontinent.
- India will tend to benefit from the membership as it is an energy deficit country and the SCO consists of countries which have rich reserves of hydrocarbons.
- It will help India in furthering its trade prospects and will also boost people-to-people relationships.
- It will be another platform for India to voice its concerns regarding the long standing border disputes with China and Pakistan.
- Getting support of the SCO countries will give a boost to India’s bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.
- The group’s political, economic and military orientation gives India, a strong foothold in Central Asia.
- Chabahar can be linked to the North-South Transport Corridor joining up to the Central Asian Republics and Russia, giving India vital access to the region.
- It will also allow India to coordinate its security mechanisms with the countries of Central Asia, Russia and China in the face of rising Islamic extremism in the region. The SCO countries, like India, also face the problems of terrorism and insurgency. The membership will improve strategic ties and increase intelligence sharing among all the countries, thus promoting regional security.
Note: Here is a map of the Central Asian Republics for reference