Foreign Policy Watch: India-SCO

Jun, 12, 2018

[op-ed snap] India re-defines its regional role



Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Mains level: The editorial summarizes India’s stance towards non-alignment amid protecting its strategic interests in the so-called multipolar world order


Setting a new tone

  1. Recent foreign policy moves by India at SCO Summit indicate an inflexion point.
  2. Combining orthodox ideas from the Cold War era along with 21st century pragmatism, it appears that India has decided that the emerging multipolar world is becoming far too complicated for the binary choices.
  3. Not only has it recast its approach to the maritime Indo-Pacific but as the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit exemplifies, it is also building deeper and more constructive links with continental Eurasia.

Our Evolving Foreign Policy for a Multipolar Order

  1. First, the central theme was that at a time when the world is facing power shifts, uncertainty and competition over geopolitical ideas and political models, India would project itself as an independent power and actor across Asia.
  2. One of the most important parts of the speech was when PM described India’s ties with the three great powers. Russia and the United States were called as partners with whom India has relationships based on overlapping interests in international and Asian geopolitics.
  3. And, India-China relations were portrayed in complex terms as having “many layers” but with a positive undertone, that stability in that relationship is important for India and the world.
  4. This implies that India will not be part of a closed group of nations or aggregate Indian power in a bloc, but will chart out its own course based on its own capacity and ideas.

India bats for Strategic Autonomy

  1. When nations stand on the side of principles, not behind one power or the other, they earn the respect of the world and a voice in international affairs.
  2. For some, this portends a renewed emphasis on non-alignment.
  3. The PM himself used the more agreeable term “strategic autonomy”.
  4. In essence, it means that India has become too big to be part of any political-military camp whose design and role in Asian affairs are being conceived elsewhere, upon ideas that India might not fully share, and where India has a marginal role in strategy and policy implementation.

The China factor

  1. Second, even as China’s rise has undoubtedly increased the demand and space for India to increase its region-wide engagement, India’s role in the vast Indo-Pacific is no longer envisaged as a China-centric one.
  2. Our PM removed any lingering impression of an impeding crusade or an ideological sub-text to India’s Act East policy in the coming years when he remarked.
  3. India does not see the Indo-Pacific Region as a strategy or as a club of limited members.
  4. In other words, India’s democracy is far more comfortable with a world of diversity than the spectre of a clash of civilisations or great powers locked in ideological contests

The Way Forward

  1. Without mentioning either, PM urged both the U.S. and China to manage their rivalry and prevent their “normal” competition from descending into conflict.
  2. He made it clear that while India would pursue many partnerships “in the region and beyond”, it was not going to choose “one side of a divide or the other” but would remain wedded to its principles and values that emphasise inclusiveness, diversity and of course its own interests.
  3. After drifting towards the U.S. for the past decade, Delhi is rediscovering a posture and policy for a multipolar world as well as taking greater responsibility for its own future and destiny.
  4. Reflecting its unique geographical position at the rimland of Eurasia and at the mouth of the Indo-Pacific, India’s foreign policy is likely to be driven by a dual attention to the balance of power and order building in the continental and maritime environment around the subcontinent.



May, 01, 2018

India, Pakistan to take part in war games


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RATS, SCO, etc. (read the attached story)

Mains level: It will be a first-of-its-kind exercise with Pakistan.


Counter-terror drill planned in Russia

  1. In a first, India and Pakistan will be part of a multi-nation counter-terror exercise in Russia in September
  2. It will also be joined by China and several other countries
  3. The military exercise will take place under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO)
  4. The SCO is a China-dominated security grouping which is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO
  5. Almost all SCO member countries will be part of it

Aim of the exercise

  1. The main aim of the exercise, Peace Mission, will be to enhance counter-terror cooperation among the eight member countries

Why is this exercise special?

  1. It will be for the first time since Independence that India and Pakistan will be part of a military exercise,
  2. though the armies of the two nations have worked together in U.N. peacekeeping missions

India as a member of the SCO

  1. India feels that as an SCO member, it will be able to play a major role in addressing the threat of terrorism in the region
  2. It is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence
Feb, 24, 2018

India-bound gas pipeline TAPI breaks ground on Afghan section

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: TAPI project

Mains level: India’s rising energy needs and diversification needed in energy imports


Start of TAPI project

  1. Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India ceremonially broke ground on the Afghan section of the ambitious, multi-billion dollar TAPI gas pipeline
  2. It is expected to help ease energy deficits in South Asia

Completion expected by 2020

  1. The quartet aims to complete the 1,840-kilometre pipeline and begin pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan’s giant Galkynysh gas field by the beginning of 2020


TAPI Gas Pipeline

  1. The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline being developed by the Galkynysh – TAPI Pipeline Company Limited with participation of the Asian Development Bank
  2. The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India
  3. Construction on the project started in Turkmenistan on December 13th, 2015
Feb, 02, 2018

India joins Ashgabat agreement


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ashgabat agreement

Mains level: Various connectivity projects across world and India’s role in them


Aceeding to Ashgabat agreement

  1. India has joined the Ashgabat agreement
  2. The agreement envisages setting up of an international transport and transit corridor linking central Asia with the Persian Gulf
  3. India’s accession to the agreement will come into force on 3 February

Decision by consensus

  1. Iran, Oman, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are founding members of the agreement
  2. These countries had signed the pact on April 25, 2011
  3. All the four founding members have consented to the accession of India
  4. India had deposited the instrument of accession with Turkmenistan in April 2016
Dec, 12, 2017

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: Indian diplomacy, beyond the canon

Image source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bodhi Parva, BIMSTEC, two plus two dialogue,  G-20, East Asia Summit, BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Commonwealth forum

Mains level: India’s rising stature in multipolar world


Multi-directional foreign policy

  1. India’s intensive diplomatic engagements this week help us better frame Delhi’s unfolding multi-directional foreign policy
  2.  India can sit with the US and its allies one day and hold consultations with the Russians and Chinese the next
  3. This reflects a definitive pragmatism rooted in the rise of India and the emergence of multipolar world

Bodhi Parva

  1. It was a celebration of Buddhist heritage to mark the 20th anniversary of a Bay of Bengal Forum, the BIMSTEC
  2. It brings together five South Asian nations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka) and two South East Asian nations (Burma and Thailand)

Idea of minilateralism

  1. Along with cultural, digital and physical connectivity, the idea of minilateralism with multiple partners has become an important theme in Indian diplomacy
  2. Delhi’s support for the renewal of the quadrilateral security dialogue marked its emphasis on ad hoc and flexible arrangements to pursue India’s interests in a more complex world

Multiple engagements

  1. Delhi is hosting the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers this week as part of a continuing trilateral engagement over the last decade and a half
  2. It then holds another trilateral forum with Japan and Australia this week
  3. This supplements the quadrilateral dialogue as well as the on-going trilateral engagement with the US and Japan
  4. Delhi is also holding the first-ever “two plus two” dialogue with Australia in which the foreign and defense secretaries from the two countries sit together

Quad is India’s answer to China

  1. Quadrilateral dialogue with the US, Afghanistan, and Pakistan was China’s effort to construct a “new type of great power relations” with the United States
  2. Russia is also interested in a grand bargain with America under President Donald Trump
  3. Thus, India’s commitment to non-alignment can be rested for now
  4. India needs to secure its interests in an increasingly uncertain world

Pragmatism after the Cold War

  1. Delhi looked beyond the Non-Aligned Movement
  2. The opening to the West in general and the United States in particular, the trilateral engagement with Russia and China and the quadrilateral security dialogue were all initiated and advanced by the governments led by P.V. Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Manmohan Singh
  3. Today India is part of such diverse organizations like the G-20, East Asia Summit, BRICS, and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
  4. Delhi is now looking more positively at the Commonwealth forum that brings more than 50 members together

India’s changed position and way forward

  1. Today as one of the world’s top economies with growing military potential, India is in a position to shape the great power politics and influence the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific and Eurasia
  2. As the weakest among the major powers in the unfolding multipolar world, Delhi needs to advance in all directions and engage more actively with a variety of minilateral and multilateral forums
Mar, 26, 2016

Nepal joins SCO grouping as dialogue partner

  1. News: Nepal has become a dialogue partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
  2. Context: Now, Nepal is able to participate in the multi-field cooperation of the SCO, which has an increasing presence in international affairs
  3. New opportunities: for the SCO’s mutually beneficial cooperation and benefit people living in the extensive region that the SCO covers
  4. Recently, Azerbaijan also officially became a SCO dialogue partner
Feb, 28, 2015

Russia to push for India's membership in SCO

  1. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, founded in 2001, comprises Russia, China and some Central Asian nations and is seen as a counter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
  2. China had also endorsed India’s bid to become a full time member at SCO and at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum.

Discuss: In 2014, CSAT saw direct factual questions on BRICS & Arctic Council. Keep the important intl. org. in mind.

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