20 Jul 2022 Varanasi is SCO’s first “tourism and cultural capital”
Varanasi is SCO’s first “tourism and cultural capital” – Today Current Affairs
- Varanasi has been selected as the first “Tourism and Cultural Capital of the SCO region 2022-23” ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit to be held in September 2022.
- The SCO summit will be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan where two new members- Iran and Belarus are likely to join the SCO. The agreement was signed by the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports as a result of the adoption of the Agreement on September 17, 2021 by the SCO member countries on cooperation in the field of youth work.
- India will host the SCO summit in the year 2023.
Today Current Affairs
- In a new recurring initiative to promote people-to-people contact and tourism among member states, it has been decided to make Varanasi the “Cultural and Tourism Capital”.
- Every year a city of cultural heritage of a member country, which will hold the recurring presidency of the organization, will be awarded a title to highlight its prominence.
- The new initiative will come into force after the Samarkand summit, after which India will assume the presidency and host the next Heads of State Summit.
SCO Expansion : The Hindu Analysis
- It has been observed that the international influence of SCO is increasing and the principles of the SCO Charter are being widely accepted.
- China and Russia want to prepare the grouping as a counter to the West, especially as an extension of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
- Although it is believed that there is a lot of contradiction between SCO and NATO.
- The expansion of NATO is completely different as the SCO is a cooperative organization based on non-alignment and does not target any third party.
- NATO is based on Cold War thinking.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) : The Hindu Analysis
- SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organization.
- It is a Eurasian political, economic and military organization whose goal is to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
- It was formed in the year 2001.
- The SCO Charter was signed in the year 2002 and came into force in the year 2003.
Produce : The Hindu Analysis
- Before the formation of the SCO in 2001, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan were members of the Shanghai Five.
- The Shanghai Five (1996) originated as a series of border demarcation and demilitarization talks, conducted by the four former Soviet republics to ensure stability along the borders with China.
- The Shanghai five was renamed SCO after Uzbekistan joined the organization in 2001.
- India and Pakistan became its members in the year 2017.
Purpose : The Hindu Analysis
- To strengthen mutual trust and goodwill among the member countries.
- To promote effective cooperation in the fields of politics, trade and economy, research and technology and culture.
- To enhance relations in the fields of education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection etc.
- To maintain peace, security and stability in the area concerned.
- To establish a democratic, fair and rational neo-international political and economic order.
Membership : The Hindu Analysis
- Currently its member countries include Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan and Iran.
Structure : The Hindu Analysis
- Council of Heads of State: It is the apex body of the SCO which discusses international issues through its internal activities with other nations and international organizations.
- Council of Heads of Governance: negotiates and decides on issues related to economic areas under SCO and approves the budget of the organization.
- Council of Foreign Ministers: It deals with issues related to day to day activities.
- Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS): deals with dealing with terrorism, separatism, separatism, extremism and extremism.
- Secretariat of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: It is located in Beijing to provide informational, analytical and organizational support.
- Official languages: Russian and Chinese are the official languages of the SCO.
Relevance of the Group to India : The Hindu Analysis
- Over time SCO hosts have encouraged members to use the forum to discuss differences.
- These were the occasions when the current Indian Prime Minister held a bilateral meeting with former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2015 and the External Affairs Minister negotiated a five-point agreement with his Chinese counterpart during the Moscow summit in 2020.
- India is also a part of the ‘Quadrilateral’ group along with the US, Japan and Australia.
- Its association with groups of a different nature is part of its foreign policy which emphasizes the principles of “strategic autonomy and multi-alignment”.