India nudges Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to adopt English as working language

NEW DELHI: India, one of the eight members of the principal Eurasian plurilateral Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, is quietly nudging the group to adopt English as a working language for the group’s meetings and documents.

The request has been put forward by India during the course of various meetings conducted by SCO, it has been learnt. The move has been necessitated since India and Pakistan joined the grouping as members in 2017.

Russian and Mandarin are presently used as official and working languages in SCO. The group’s documents are also prepared in these two languages. Besides Russia and China, four Central Asian states are among the founder members of SCO and Russian is widely spoken and written there.

The Indian initiative to introduce English as a working language has received tacit support from Russia and Central Asian states, primarily Kazakhstan, ET has learnt.

In fact, both Russia and Kazakhstan have been pushing the idea to adopt English at least as a working language.

However, China so far is lukewarm to the idea of adopting English as an official language, ET has learnt. Interestingly, Pakistan, where English is commonly used for official work, is backing its all-weather ally China and has not firmed up its position on the use of English language by SCO.

Currently, India widely uses interpreters or Russian and Mandarin speakers at the SCO meetings. India and Pakistan have their representatives at the SCO Secretariat in Beijing. They are either Russian or Chinese speakers.

SCO was created as a mechanism for the resolution of border-related problems between former Soviet Republics of Central Asia and Russia and China. The five countries border solution mechanism –– the Shanghai Five group –– was founded in Shanghai in 1996. Then, again in Shanghai in 2001, it was transferred into the SCO. The Charter was signed in 2001 at Saint Petersburg.

In 2001, in Shanghai, the five member nations admitted Uzbekistan to the Shanghai Five mechanism, transforming it into the Shanghai Six. Then, all the six heads of state signed on the Declaration of SCO on June 15, 2001.

The name Shanghai Cooperation Organization was proposed by the first president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev during the Shanghai Five Summit in Almaty in 1998.

In 2002, the heads of the SCO member states met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and signed the SCO Charter which expounded on the organisation’s purposes, principles, structures and forms of operations, and established it in international law.

June 15 is celebrated as SCO Day every year and SCO Summits usually are held around this date, except this year. The SCO summit, postponed due to the pandemic, is proposed to be held this year in October at St Petersburg.

The SCO comprises Russia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

SCO has four observer states — Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia. The group has six dialogue partners –– Azerbaijan, , Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.

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