Samarkand, Uzbekistan: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) must make efforts to develop reliable, resilient and diversified supply chains in our region. This will require better connectivity, as well as it will be important that we all give each other full right to transit.
The Prime MInister was addressing the Summit of SCO at Samarkand, Uzbekistan on Friday.
Modi underscored the pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine has caused many obstacles in global supply chains, due to which the whole world is facing an unprecedented energy and food crisis. Today, when the whole world is facing the challenges of economic recovery after the pandemic, the role of SCO becomes very important, he emphasised.
Poiting out that SCO member countries contribute about 30 percent of global GDP, and 40 percent of the world’s population also lives in SCO countries, Modi said India supports greater cooperation and mutual trust among SCO members.
Special Working Group on Start-ups and Innovation
Modi further said: “We are making progress on making India a manufacturing hub. India’s young and talented workforce makes us naturally competitive. India’s economy is expected to grow by 7.5 percent this year, which will be the highest among the world’s largest economies. A lot of focus is also being given on the proper use of technology in our people-centric development model. We are supporting innovation in every sector. Today, there are more than 70,000 Start-ups in India, of which more than 100 are unicorns. Our experience can also be useful for many other SCO members. For this purpose, we are ready to share our experience with SCO member countries by establishing a new Special Working Group on Start-ups and Innovation.
‘Millet Food Festival’ under the SCO
Drawing attention to another major challenge the world faces today, Modi said, it is about ensuring the food security of our citizens. One possible solution to this problem is to promote the cultivation and consumption of millets. Millets are a superfood that has been grown for thousands of years, not just in SCO countries, but in many parts of the world, and is a traditional, nutritious, and low-cost alternative to dealing with the food crisis. The year 2023 will be celebrated as the UN International Year of Millets. We should consider organizing a ‘Millet Food Festival’ under the SCO.
Global Centre for Traditional Medicine
India is today one of the most affordable destinations for medical and wellness tourism in the world. the Prime Minister said. He especially talked of WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine that was inaugurated in Gujarat in April 2022. It will be WHO’s first and only global centre for traditional medicine. We must increase cooperation on traditional medicine among SCO countries. For this, India will take the initiative for a new SCO Working Group on Traditional Medicine, the PM said.
Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
Briefing media persons on Friday, India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said Prime Minister Narendra Modi left Thursday 15 September on a 24-hour visit to Samarkand, Uzbekistan at the invitation of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to participate in the 22nd meeting of the Council of the Heads of State of the SCO. Uzbekistan is the current chair of the organization.
SCO is a regional multilateral organization that has eight member states namely India, China, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and the host of the SCO chair this time, Uzbekistan.
SCO was set up in June 2001 and India became a full member in 2017. The Council of the SCO Heads of State is the highest decision making body of the organization and meets for an annual summit that is hosted by a member state of the SCO. Prime Minister Modi has been leading the Indian delegation to the SCO Summit every year, since India became its full member in 2017. During the last two summits in 2020 and 2021, Prime Minister participated in a virtual format.
After the Council of Heads of State, the Council of Heads of Government is the second most important mechanism of the SCO, which deals principally with trade, economy and cultural agenda of the organization.
India chaired this mechanism during 2020 with the then Vice President Venkaiah Naidu presiding over our Summit meeting in November 2020 in virtual format.
During our chairmanship at that time, a number of initiatives were taken including holding an exhibition of shared Buddhist heritage in SCO member states in virtual format by the National Museum, translation of 10 books of regional Indian literature into the official languages of the SCO, i.e the Russian and the Chinese and hosting the first SCO Start up Forum, the first SCO MSME forum and the first SCO Young Scientist Conclave in virtual format.
The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, RATS of SCO is another important mechanism of the organization. India assumed the chairship of the executive council of RATS in October last year for a year, and has been focusing on promoting practical cooperation in combating the problem of terrorism in our region.
This time the SCO is focussing attention on the security situation in the region; our cooperation perspective in the region including strengthening connectivity as well as boosting trade and tourism in the region.
Apart from the Summit activities, Prime Minister will hold bilateral meetings with the President of Uzbekistan and some other leaders on the sidelines of the summit. PM’s participation in this summit is a reflection of the importance that India attaches to the SCO and its goals. This is also tied to our approach and engagement with the region as a whole.
India hosted the first India-Central Asia Summit earlier this year, preceded by a Foreign Minister level meeting. India remains focused on strengthening our linkages with Central Asia and the extended neighbourhood. And this visit will take that vision and that perspective forward.