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Hit right notes at SCO

Hit right notes at SCO
Highlights

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ recent five-nation tour has ended in a win-win situation for India. It not only helped firm up ties with Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, US and Mexico, but also won the backing of the last three for an entry into the 48-member elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ recent five-nation tour has ended in a win-win situation for India. It not only helped firm up ties with Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, US and Mexico, but also won the backing of the last three for an entry into the 48-member elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Apart from having fruitful bilateral discussions, Modi signed six key agreements to the extent that the Indo-US vision was christened as ‘Modi doctrine.’

It has been diplomatic success in that US ensured India’s membership in the 34-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and also is dangling MTCR entry for Beijing in return for allowing India’s NSG bid.

As things stand, NSG and MTCR, along with Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group, make up the four nuclear control regimes in the world.

Winning over critical US support, without needling China, is a great personal victory for Modi’s diplomacy. India’s recent cancellation of visa to a Uyghur separatist, issue of conference visas for Chinese academia, refusal for joint patrols with the US in South China Sea and even avoiding any mention of it in the joint statement demonstrate that New Delhi has come a long way in establishing its worldly credentials.

However, China’s insistence on India signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty before joining NSG exposes that it is still wary of the India-US logistical ties. The 2015 Indo-US strategic reference to South China Sea, growing defence ties, opening up of India's ports to the US navy, among others, augmented Chinese fears,

which gets compounded by US leaders’ utterances about using India as a counterweight to China, which is now having a rethink after having earlier relented on one-time NSG waiver for US civil nuclear deal with India in 2008. It is only a firm assertion by India that the true intent is global peace and stability that can assuage Beijing’s fears, most of which are unfounded.

Considering that Thursday’s NSG meet in Vienna did not even take up India’s application, the June 20-24 plenary in Seoul is crucial for India because Modi can win over the Chinese at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Tashkent on June 23-24. SCO is likely to take India and Pakistan on-board as full-time members.

As Barack Obama is unlikely to take up India’s cause with Xi Jinping, Modi has to impress upon Putin to use his good offices with Jinping. Also, India in SCO will be a sort of assurance to China as it can expect fellow-members to at least be neutral in case of a showdown with the US.

The summit gives Modi a chance to allay Russia’s apprehensions, if any, as also avoid ruptures in BRICS. New Delhi should reiterate its avowed stand on non-alignment, both at the SCO meet and the 17th NAM summit in Venezuela on July 14-16.

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