SAMARKAND: The recently concluded heads of state summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan presents India many opportunities: the question is can it capitalise on them? The question is very valid. India is a relative late comer to this region, waking up about a decade ago with the focus on connectivity and commerce among others. Even today, the focus remains much the same given Pakistan’s refusal to allow India transit through its territory to Afghanistan or Iran. In terms of commerce India has much to offer the region in terms of development assistance, capacity building and IT. But the government has been slow to move and Indian business has been even slower to take advantage of opportunities there. The result is the region is looking elsewhere, towards China, but that comes at a cost. Iran is another window for the landlocked region but Tehran’s ruling clerics have their own national interests to push, not to mention the sanctions the regime is under. So, we come back to the question, can India capitalise on the opportunities here. It would require a lot of imagination, drive and for Indian industry to take the risk and invest. That is the story which is yet to develop and hopefully, after this summit, it will.
December 3, 2023
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