New Delhi : India's Presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) comes at a time when the global economy is facing significant challenges due to various prevailing issues.
India's SCO Presidency also come at a time when the global landscape is facing newer challenges such as the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic along with the changing geopolitical scenarios that are rapidly shifting in the region. India's Presidency under these circumstances aims to further enhance its standing in the region and also at the same time promote the overall interests of the members involved in areas such as trade and energy security.
The rotational presidency which remains with India until September 2023, also, however, presents New Delhi with some opportunities to explore its global ambitions.
Firstly, it poses an opportunity for India to renew its bilateral relationship with countries situated in Central Asia including Kazakhstan with which India shares a cordial bilateral history.
One of the main drivers of the India-Kazakhstan relationship has been their shared interest in regional stability and economic development. Both countries have worked closely since their official ties back in 1992 took shape.
The two countries have also been working closely to enhance their political and cultural ties with India supporting Kazakhstan's efforts to promote regional stability as well as its bid to enhance democratic endeavours across the region.
Moreover, India has also provided technical assistance in areas such as election monitoring and capacity building in order to expand upon their bilateral relations.
The two countries have also been working to promote cultural exchange with regular cultural and artistic exchanges taking place between the two.
These mutual admirations for certain values should be capitalized upon during India's Presidency as well to be able to fully utilise the presidency to its maximum effect in such a manner that elevates not only bilateral ties but also enables regional development.
The mutual interest between both the countries as well as with the other members must be utilised to its full potential in promoting regional integration and cooperation through the SCO grouping.
Secondly, in India's endeavour to lead the global world, its focus has majorly relied on advocating regional development through such multilateral platforms.
Its regional agendas have laid emphasis on the climate crisis as well as mitigation against climate change. More so, India has also been conducting meetings regarding the advents of facing environmental concerns arising from such rapid alterations in the climate along with proposing unified responses.
It has also been emphasizing the need for taking strong and decisive action to address the global climate crisis, with a particular focus on the role of renewable energy and green technologies.
The presidency also reflects upon India's bid to gain international legitimacy that can elevate India to be situated in decision-making bodies in global governance.
Such international grouping and its presidencies provide the right opportunity to showcase its leadership prospects especially given the need for consensus among all major countries in mitigating challenges that are only increasing.
Apart from its initiatives that enhance the grouping's priorities, India's central focus in the SCO's platform has also remained on the region's security prospects.
New Delhi has on various occasions aimed to strengthen the region by promoting the cooperation of the region specifically pertaining to sectors such as security and trade.
Among the key priorities for India during its presidency has been to expand the cooperation to include mechanisms that could enhance security ties.
Terrorism is a domain that has caused significant obstacles for all of the member states of the SCO, India in this bid has been initiating counter-terrorism channels to upgrade the priorities of the grouping above and over a regional pact focusing on trade and development.
As part of this endeavour, India has been advocating for the urgent need to tackle the root causes of terrorism such as poverty, inequality and lack of education. This has also presented its presidency with the opportunity to integrate these issues with those that are already on its agenda such as integrating development through trade and economic prosperity.
This has thus also led New Delhi to invariably emphasize upon the need for greater regional integration and increased trade and investment among SCO member states.
India has also called for greater cooperation on infrastructure development, energy, and connectivity to enhance regional economic growth and prosperity which on its part could significantly reduce the security issues faced by the member-states of the SCO grouping.
India's SCO Presidency has also been marked by its emphasis on cultural and people-to-people exchanges. The country has proposed a number of initiatives aimed at promoting cultural and educational exchanges among SCO member states, with a view of promoting greater understanding among the region's diverse cultures.
As part of its presidency, India has been demonstrating its commitment to enhancing cooperation in the region along with all its member states.
The focus on cooperating in the domains of energy, infrastructural development, environmental sustainability as well as regional security is a marker of its long-standing leadership role in the region and also presents the opportunity to further connect with its region, especially in times of crisis which has the potential to cause serious repercussions for the overall global economy.
Moreover, its presidency of both the G20 and the SCO is a great reminder of India's growing influence not only in its own region but globally. The fact that this opportunity is being utilised to its maximum effect is a testimony to its growing influential role in the global arena and should be made the most out of as far as India's diplomatic outlook is concerned.
Notably, the addition of India and Pakistan to the SCO expanded the grouping to represent around 40 per cent of the total population and 30 per cent of the world's GDP share in 2017.
The group includes countries such as China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan and covers over 60 per cent of the Eurasian landmass.
In 2022, India assumed the presidency of the SCO, marking a significant milestone in the country's role in regional cooperation and its endeavour of advocating for an integrated neighbourhood.