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Mains Answer Writing


Q1) Rapidly evolving balance of power has the potential to realign contradictions and collaboration within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In this context, critically evaluate the relevance of SCO in advancing India’s interests.

(150 Words/ 10 Marks)



SCO is an intergovernmental organization with objectives of political and economic stability as well as regional security. The dynamic geopolitics of the world marked by clouds of war and instability from Ukraine to Taiwan strait has realigned the balance of power, creating new contradictions and collaborations.

The relevance of SCO in advancing India’s interests is as follows:

  1. Multi-polar order: With large reserves of fuel (oil, gas, uranium), 43% global population, and regional contiguity, SCO has potential to build a new political and economic international order centred on Asia.

E.g., expansion of membership towards Iran and other gulf-states.

  1. Regional Integration: SCO can help improve regional connectivity and promote effective cooperation in trade and economy in a region divided by political and historical factors.

E.g., energy trade between India and central Asia through Pakistan.

  1. It can contribute to regional stability through joint management of the threats from Afghanistan and Pakistan based on the Shanghai Spirit for regional development.

E.g., Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of SCO.

  1. SCO provides opportunities to strengthen mutual confidence and good-neighbourly relations among the member countries.

E.g., between India-Pakistan or India-China through joint defence exercises.

  1. Balance of power: Membership of Russia and India limit China’s powerplay in central Asia. India’s membership helps it avoid creation of an anti-India coalition in its neighbourhood.

SCO’s promising role is also marred by certain challenges as discussed below:

  1. Lack of cohesion: The anti-Americanism of other countries of the group is not shared by India. The bilateral issues between India-China and India-Pakistan make regional cooperation superficial.
  2. Cooperation on containing terrorism is unlikely. China-Pakistan axis has resisted attempt at sanctioning international terrorists at UNSC. Pakistan views Taliban-controlled Afghanistan as an area of strategic depth.
  3. Economic cooperation is likely to be unfruitful due to fear of dumping of under-priced goods from China. E.g., India’s withdrawal from RCEP on similar concerns.
  4. With alternate arrangements like the Indo-pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), SCO can create a cold-war like divide.

E.g., China and Russia’s hostile views on the concept of Indopacific.

  1. Increasing global rigidity over Russia-Ukraine conflict may paint the members of SCO as camp followers of Russia-China, reducing the credibility of SCO.

In conclusion, we can say the multipolar era has increased the salience of SCO as an organisation for regional cooperation. But internal challenges of the group limit its potential in catalysing the Asian century. India’s SECURE strategy balancing security with economic development and connectivity should be the way forward.

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