India is committed to widening cooperation with SCO by playing a proactive, positive and constructive role in the organization. In this year, India and SCO complete 15 years of formal association, sources explained to ET. India’s engagement with SCO started in 2005 as an Observer State and India became a full member of the SCO at the historic Astana Summit in 2017.
The Prime Minister has attended each of the annual SCO Summits since 2017 and has laid out his vision for engagement with SCO through two acronyms. HEALTH– H for health care cooperation, E for economic cooperation, A for alternative energy, L for literature and culture, T for terrorism free society and H for humanitarian cooperation, and SECURE– S for security of our citizens, E for economic development of all, C for Connecting the region, U for Unite our people, R for Respect for sovereignty and integrity, E for Environment protection. We has pursued Hon’ble PM”s vision through various activities and mechanisms of SCO in the past three years of our association with SCO.
India assumed the Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government on 2 November 2019 as per rotation from the previous Chair – Uzbekistan and will complete its tenure on 30 November 2020 by hosting the 19th session of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG) at the level of Prime Ministers in the virtual format. It will be the first time that a Summit-level Meeting will be held under India’s Chairmanship, since it gained full -membership in 2017.
The SCO CHG deals primarily with the trade and economic agenda of the organization and approves its annual budget. Hon’ble Vice President of India will be chairing the meeting. Apart from the other seven SCO Member States (Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan), the Heads of the delegation of 4 Observer States of SCO ( Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia) will also participate. Turkmenistan will be invited as a special guest as per past precedent.
The Secretary General of SCO and the Executive Director of the SCO Regional Anti-terrorist Structure (SCO RATS) are also invited. Chairmen of SCO Business Council and SCO Interbank Association will also be present.
The SCO Summit of Heads of Government decides the strategies and priorities for trade and economic cooperation for the next year. Every annual meeting of SCO Heads of Government ends with a Joint Communique that contains the major proposals of Member States on issues of trade and economic cooperation. This year, the 30 November Summit will end with the adoption of the Joint Communique under the Chairmanship of India.
Apart from the Joint Communique, there will be other decisions on the approval of the budget of the organization and the Report on the implementation of the SCO Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation prepared by the SCO Secretariat.
During the course of present Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government in 2020, India has particularly, focused on creating three new pillars of cooperation : Startups and Innovation, Science and Technology and Traditional Medicine and also proposed many other concrete initiatives. India has offered to create and Chair a new Special Working Group on Startups and Innovation and to set up an Expert Working Group on Cooperation in Traditional Medicine.
During the course of the year, India has organized in the virtual format, the first-ever SCO Young Scientists Conclave in which more than 200 young scientists participated, the first-ever Consortium of SCO Economic Think Tanks and the first-ever SCO Startup Forum.
The SCO Startup Forum witnessed participation of 49 speakers, 102 startups and over 2690 people from all the SCO Countries. In the B2B format, FICCI has organized the first SCO Business Conclave with special emphasis on Cooperation in MSMEs through the national chapters of the SCO Business Council .
In this year, India has hosted the meeting of SCO Ministers responsible for External Economy and Foreign Trade on 28th October and the meeting of SCO Ministers for Justice on 16th October in the video-conference format.
On the cultural- humanitarian side, India has implemented PM’s announcements made at the Bishkek Summit at the SCO Heads of State in 2019. They include: hosting the first-ever SCO Digital Exhibition on Shared Buddhist Heritage by the National Museum, that will be inaugurated on 30 November, and the translation of 10 classics of Indian regional literature into Russian and Chinese languages. India has also proposed to host the SCO Food Festival in 2021 in India.
By hosting the 19thmeeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government on 30 November , India hopes to further strengthen greater trade, economic and cultural cooperation within SCO by putting human beings at the center of SCO activities and to foster greater peace and prosperity in the region. We hope that India’s initiatives will not only be helpful for SCO Member States in overcoming the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but will also signal our continued commitment to strengthening the organization.