Samarkand Process – Prospects for Modernisation of the SCO speech by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director VIF on 14 June 2023

I would like to thank the organizers, International Institute of Central Asia (IICA) Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan and ISRS for inviting me to participate in this RT on “Samarkand Process : Prospects for modernisation of the SCO”.

Presently India holds the Chairmanship of the SCO. Council of Heads of States. India is looking forward to holding the meeting of the SCO Heads of State in Delhi. In the recent years SCO’s membership has expanded, as also; its agenda. It is an opportune moment to discuss how SCO should be reformed and modernisation in keeping with the rapid transformation in the global and regional environment.
As a representative of an Indian think tank, I would like to make the following six broad points-

Institutional reforms :
  1. SCO Secretariat’s functioning should be improved. A working group should be set up to study how this should be done.
  2. In order to make SCO more workable for the associated countries, English language should be accepted as another official language of the organization.
  3. The SCO should set up strong translation facility for documentation purposes.
  4. Simplify and expedite decision-making processes within the SCO by establishing clear guidelines and procedures while ensuring inclusivity, transparency and consensus-building among member states.
Capacity building
  1. Greater understanding of the legal systems of SCO members’ nations may be encouraged. The SCO should plan continued outreach to the citizen of the member countries in this regard.
  2. There is also a need to Invest in capacity building and training programmes to enhance the administrative skills of the SCO Secretariat and other relevant bodies.
Information sharing
  1. Strengthen information sharing, intelligence cooperation and joint operations to combat terrorism, extremism, and transnational organized crime effectively.
  2. Enhance cooperation among member states to address common cybersecurity challenges, develop joint strategies, and promote the sharing of best practices and technical expertise.
  1. Encourage think tanks, academic institutions, and civil society organizations to engage in dialogue and research to provide policy
  2. recommendations and promote people-centric cooperation.
  3. Courses of studying SCO may be included in universities.
  4. A journal or magazine of SCO for experience sharing can also be initiated.
  1. Facilitate tourism cooperation by easing visa restrictions, improving travel infrastructure, and launching joint marketing campaigns to promote the SCO region as a desirable tourist destination. A SCO tourism institute can also be established.
  2. An SCO center of traditional medicine on the lines of the WHO Center for traditional medicine in Gujarat can also be opened in one of the SCO countries.
  3. A SCO disaster management center/institute can be opened.
  1. Adopting Digital public Infrastructure (DPI) as proposed by India will be highly useful in the digitalization process of the SCO space.
  2. The DPI initiative, also known as the India Stack, is a collection of digital platforms such as Aadhar, Digital Locker, DigiYatra, UPI, and technologies that have been developed through collaboration between different entities, including governments, regulators, the private sector, volunteers, startups, and academic institutions.

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