GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 74, 15 June 2019

The SCO Summit 2019: Narendra Modi in Bishkek
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

What happened?

Narendra Modi took part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, held at Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan during 13-14 June 2019. 

On 14 June, PM Modi attended the India-Kyrgyz Business Forum, emphasizing growth in economic status and advancement in technology in India as the prominent reasons for global development. He was also expected to engage in bilateral talks with Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. 

In the summit, India, along with the other members, the SCO condemned all forms of terrorism and manifestations. The Bishkek Declaration of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's Heads of State Council, the member states stressed the need for the international community to promote cooperation in combating this issue. The members urged the global community to work towards a consensus on adopting. 

What is the background?

The SCO is a China-led 8-member economic and security bloc with India and Pakistan were admitted to the grouping in 2017. Other members of the grouping are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.  This summit is Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai, China.  

For India, the summit came at a crucial juncture, as Modi starts his second tenure as India's PM. Just before the summit, he had a fruitful visit to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, two crucial countries in Indian neighbourhood.  The on-going trade war between the US and China has also provided a background for the meeting between Modi and Jinping in the sideline of this summit.

What does it mean?

The SCO summit has provided a platform for India to maintain and reset the relationship with China, Russia, and Iran.  It was expected that this summit would give India three opportunities: first, the meeting for PM Modi with his Chinese and Russian counterparts. Meeting with Xi Jinping was important to India given the forthcoming visit of the Chinese President in October 2019. 

Second, the leaders of India and Iran were expected to address the energy issue, as the oil import from Iran has been stopped. One is not clear, whether Modi made was successful in this regard; there are no reports yet in the public domain on this.

Third, the Central Asia meetings are likely to be useful for India. With questions on energy imports from Iran looming large, Central Asia could become another source. Also crucial for India is the growing Chinese footprints in Central Asia.

Finally, contrary to the expectations, there was no substantial meeting between Modi and Imran Khan. Though the latter has been insisting on resuming bilateral dialogue, Modi seems to be reluctant. If Indo-Pak dialogue is likely to remain a non-starter, so would be India-Central Asia energy relations.