India’s Membership In Shanghai Cooperation Organization Is A Geopolitical Anachronism – Analysis


The recent Summit Meet of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SC0) at Samarkand in Uzbekistan once again brings into bold relief the incongruity of India’s continuance as member of the China-led and China-dominated SCO, which perceptionally going by its enlarged Islamic countries composition is reminiscent of a Sino-Islamic Bloc in confrontation with Western Civilisation as predicted by Samuel Huntington in his classic work ‘The Clash of Civilisations’.

 China’s semi-official media organ commenting on the SCO Summit asserts that SCO is a “strategic move to break the United States containment of China” by China’s ‘Circle of Friends’ at SCO. Further, China maintained that SCO compliments China’s international stature and influence. Addedly, that United States continues to keep Russia under pressure in Europe while at the same time continuing to keep China under containment pressure.

Reading between the lines it should strike that SCO dominated and led by China with Russia in tow is nothing but a fig-leaf intended to shroud China’s and Russian core aims of forging a united front as counterweight to QUAD and United States bilateral Strategic Partnerships with Major Asian Powers like Japan and India and including Australia in the wider Indo Pacific expanse.

Is it not an anachronism that India whose national security architecture incorporates and revolves around its Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnerships with United States , Japan and Australia should be keeping company with an Organisation like SCO whose intended aim is to unravel US-led security architectures in Indo Pacific of which India now occupies a pivotal role?

Perceptionaly, SCO with exception of Slavic Russia, when viewed with addition of Iran to Pakistan and the Islamic States of Central Asian Republics and now according Delegates status to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar, strikes me as China attempting adopting of Samuel Huntington’s version of a “Sino-Islamic Bloc” to confront the US-led Western Bloc of Democracies.

One would endorse fully the comments recently made by India’s noted geopolitical analyst Brahma Chellaney in a recent TV discussion that SCO without India‘s membership lacks global credibility and that India’s presence at SCO Summits “Adds Respectability” to SCO.. No gainsaying the fact here.

Logically, India has no cogent reasons compelling it to “add respectability to an Organisation which comprises India’s China as India’s Enemy Number One and India’s Enemy Number Two that is Pakistan.

India’s continuance of SCO defies all geopolitical and strategic logic on many counts and chiefly that SCO membership of India serves no national security or economic security interests vital for India.

Perceptionaly, India’s continuance as Member of SCO “confuses” United States, Major European Powers, Japan and Australia regarding India’s strategic compass and whether these Major Powers who opted for robust Strategic Partnerships with India invested rightly in credibility of India as an Emerging Power destined to play a significant role in global security and stability.

Notably, China and Russia as leading members of SCO have never ever vocally asserted or implicitly conceded that they would like India to be a Major Power playing a vital role in global affairs, The United States has asserted its intentions many times that the US is committed to assist India assuming that role.

India’s membership of SCO and Indian policy obsessive mind-sets to justify that India’s membership of SCO reflects India’s faith in multilateralism finds few takers globally. What perception is certainly generated is that India is once again slipping into the Nehruvian mould of foreign policy.

India’s policy establishment needs to realise that China and Russia are only rhetorical protagonists of “multilateralism”. The predatory aggressive instincts of China and Russia exhibited in the last decade more pointedly points otherwise to China’s and Russia’s credentials.

If all the reasons analysed above were not convincing enough then the latest assertions by Russia’s top National Security Council official visiting China should indicate to India as to which way is Russia headed especially after its ill-fated and ill-advised invasion of Ukraine. It was asserted that Russia is “committed” to protect China’s core interests. Does it need to be pointed out that all of China’s Core Interests crucially impinge on India’s national security?

The SCO within its Organisation shrouds four complex strategic geometries which are inimical to India’s national security interests, namely, the Russia-China Axis, the China Pakistan Axis, the Russia-Pakistan Trilateral, and the Russia-China-Iran Trilateral.

Concluding, as advocated by me for years, unfolding contemporary geopolitical events and strategic geometries in 2022-end dictate that India should withdraw from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as India’s continued membership of SCO muddies its foreign policy compass and affect India’s national security interests. 

Dr. Subhash Kapila

Dr Subhash Kapila combines a rich and varied professional experience of Indian Army Brigadier ( Veteran), diplomatic assignments in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Bhutan. Served in India's Cabinet Secretariat also. He is a Graduate of Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley, UK, Msc Defence Studies from Madras University and a Doctorate in Strategic Studies from Allahabad University. Papers have been presented by him in International Seminars in Japan,Turkey, Russia and Vietnam. Credited to him are over 1,500 Papers on geopolitical & strategic topical issues and foreign policies of USA, Japan, India, China and Indo Pacific Asia. He has authored two Books : "India's Defence Policies & Strategic Thought: A Comparative Analysis" and "China-India Military Confrontation: 21st Century Perspectives"

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