India attends Cultural Ministers’ meeting in China

In India’s first participation at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Cultural Ministers’ meeting as a full time member, the national delegation was led by Mahesh Sharma, India’s Junior Minister of Culture

May 18, 2018

The SCO is an Eurasian political, economic, and security organisation, which was set up in 2001 in Shanghai by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; India and Pakistan joined the SCO as full members in 2017

The platform is of vital importance for India, which has employed its soft powers to ascertain its global importance. This is evident in the fact that in 2017, foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) into India increased by nearly 16 per cent

India has been participating in SCO’s cultural initiatives such as nominating World Heritage sites for the SCO-UNESCO exhibition proposed to be held in Paris in September 2018 and signing of agreement between SCO and UNESCO

Key discussions of the SCO meeting focused on achieving more in-depth and creative multilateral cultural cooperation, promoting regional cultural cooperation and achieving improved people-to-people exchanges in coming years

Over May 16-17, India attended the 15th Meeting of the Cultural Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states, held at Sanya in China’s Hainan province. In the country’s first participation at the event as a full-time member, the national delegation was led by India’s Junior Minister for Culture, Mahesh Sharma. The SCO is an Eurasian political, economic, and security organisation, which was set up in 2001 in Shanghai by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined the SCO as full members in 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. At the summit, Mr Sharma said that India attaches special importance to SCO in promoting multilateral, cultural, political, security, economic and people-to-people interaction in the region.

Speaking at the meet, Mr Sharma said that India has a long history of cultural exchanges with China and other SCO member states. So much so that people-to-people exchanges spanning thousands of years in the region have helped in shaping modern diplomatic relations. Joining the SCO has provided greater space and opportunities for varied exchanges and cooperation, the Culture Minister added. The summit was of particular importance for India, which has employed its vast cultural riches and soft powers to ascertain its global importance. This is evident in the fact that in 2017, foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) into India increased by nearly 16 per cent year-over-year to around 10.2 million. This increase has continued in 2018, with FTAs into India rising by 10 per cent over the first three months of the year to 3.1 million.

He added that it will be a win-win situation for China and India – both of which have a rich and diversified culture – to further explore and develop wider cultural exchanges and cooperation that could include tourism, education, science, archaeology, music, drama and even yoga. Key discussions of the SCO meeting focused on achieving more in-depth and creative multilateral cultural cooperation, promoting regional cultural cooperation and achieving improved people-to-people exchanges. At the meeting, all participants agreed that cultural cooperation between the SCO member states achieved remarkable progress over the past year. Meanwhile, reports presented at the meeting about diversified exchanges and cooperation proved that bilateral and multilateral cooperation is growing deeper and wider.

The conference concluded with the issuance of the 2018-20 Executive Plan. This platform is vital for building regional confidence. At the latest meet, SCO members joined in welcoming India into the group and encouraging more direct contacts and practical exchanges of cultural organizations within SCO member states as well as joint creation of cultural products and works. After the expansion of the groups, SCO represents about 42 per cent of the world’s population, 20 per cent of its GDP and 22 per cent of the landmass. The main objectives of the SCO are to strengthen relations among member states; promote cooperation in various fields such as political affairs, economics, and education, culture, tourism, environment protection, and promote regional peace, security, and stability among others.

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