Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that connectivity with the neighbourhood and in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) region is India’s priority as he stressed that his country was committed to extend full cooperation to a successful outcome of the summit.
Speaking at the restricted session of the Asian Summit SCO, Prime Minister Modi also floated the concept of SECURE: ‘S’ for security for citizens, ‘E’ for economic development, ‘C’ for connectivity in the region, ‘U’ for unity, ‘R’ for respect of sovereignty and integrity, and ‘E’ for environment protection.
“We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighbourhood and in the SCO region is our priority,” PM Modi said.
It is for the first time the Indian Prime Minister is attending the Asian Summit SCO after India along with Pakistan became full-fledged members of the grouping, jointly dominated by China and Russia, which has been increasingly seen as a counter to NATO.
PM Modi said India is committed to extend full cooperation to a successful outcome of the summit. Noting that only 6 per cent of foreign tourists in India are from SCO countries, PM Modi said this can easily be doubled.
“Increasing awareness of our shared cultures can help boost this number. We will organise a SCO food festival and a Buddhist festival in India,” he said.
Citing Afghanistan as an “unfortunate example” of effect of terrorism, PM Modi said he hoped the brave steps towards peace taken by President Ashraf Ghani will be respected by all in the region, apparently referring to a cease-fire announced by the Afghan leader for the Eid festival.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation currently has eight member countries which represent around 42 per cent of the world’s population and 20 per cent of the global GDP. Besides PM Modi, other leaders attending the summit include Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its members last year.