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India Hosts Annual SCO Heads of Government Summit

December 1, 2020: India held the SCO Heads of Government Summit on November 30. India hosted this meeting for the first time after it became the full member in 2017. Vice President Mr Venkaihah Naidu represented India in the meeting. The annual Heads of Government Summit primarily deals with trade and economic matters.

This year’s summit was virtual due to COVID-19 and it was chaired by Vice President Mr Venkaihah Naidu. It was attended by representatives from eight member states and four observer states. Six Prime ministers, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, as well as the PMs of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, attended the meeting. Pakistan was represented by the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The observers were President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, the First Vice President of Iran, the Prime Minister of Belarus, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia. As a host, India had invited Turkmenistan as a Special Guest and was represented by the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers. 

In his address, Mr Naidu highlighted that more than 30 indigenous vaccines are currently being developed in India. He thanked India’s “world-class pharmaceutical industry”. He also added, “India has demonstrated itself as a ‘pharmacy to the world’ during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mr Naidu said terrorism is the most important challenge facing the region.

“The most important challenge faced by us in the region is terrorism, particularly cross-border terrorism. Terrorism is truly the enemy of humanity. It is a scourge we need to collectively combat,” he said in his address.

“India condemns terrorism in all its manifestations. We remain concerned about threats emerging from ungoverned spaces and are particularly concerned about States that leverage terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Such an approach is entirely against the spirit and ideals and the Charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” added Mr Naidu.

India has proposed the formation of a Special Working Group on Startups and Innovation and Expert Group on Traditional Medicine to foster startup ecosystem and to establish an “effective and low cost alternative” to modern medicine systems respectively.

Earlier in November, India also hosted SCO Young Scientists Conclave with more than 200 young scientists from member countries of SCO participating in the conference. 

Mr Naidu ended his speech by congratulating Kazakhstan for Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government in 2021.