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Table of Contents

  • GS-2 Polity
    • What is SCO and Their Recent Tourism Conference in Varanasi
  • Fact Files
  • What is pre-arrest bail?
  • What is the McMahon Line and why has the US Senate passed a resolution in support of India's position on it?

What is SCO and Their Recent Tourism Conference in Varanasi

GS-2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

During the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) tourism ministers  conference held in Varanasi on March 17, India proposed an action plan to designate 2023 as the year of tourism development in the SCO regionIndia will assume the chairmanship of SCO in 2023.


Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was established on June 15, 2001, as an intergovernmental organization based in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • These countries, except for Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five group, formed on 26 April 1996 with the signing of the Treaty on Deepening Military Trustin Border Regions.
  • In 2001, during the annual summit in Shanghai, the five-member nations first admitted Uzbekistan in the Shanghai Five mechanism (thus transforming it into the Shanghai Six).
  • Thereafter, on 15 June 2001 the Declaration of SCO, was signed and in June 2002 the heads of the SCO Member States signed the SCO Charter which expounded on the organization’s purposes, principles, structures and forms of operation, and established it in international law.
  • At the July 2005 Astana Summit, India was granted Observer status. In July 2015 in Ufa, Russia, the SCO decided to admit India as full member.
  • India signed the memorandum of obligation in June 2016 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, thereby starting the formal process of joining the SCO as full member. 
  • On 9 June 2017, at the historic summit in Astana, India officially joined SCO as full- member along with Pakistan.             
  • At present, it comprises eight Member States, including China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and four Observer States - Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia, who are interested in becoming full members. 
  • In 2021at the Dushanbe Summit, Iran began the process of accession to the SCO as a full member, while Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia joined as "Dialogue Partners".
  • Maldives, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Myanmar were inducted as Dialogue Partners in 2022 at the Samarkand Summit.
  • The SCO has primarily focused on regional security issues, including combatting terrorism, ethnic separatism, and religious extremism since its inception in 2001. However, it has also prioritized regional development in recent years. 
  • The SCO has been an observer at the UN General Assembly since 2005, and the UN and SCO Secretariats signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation in 2010.

Structure of SCO

  • SCO has two Permanent Bodies
  1. SCO Secretariat in Beijing and 
  2. Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent
  • The Chairmanship of SCO is by rotation for a year by Member States.
  • The Council of Heads of States is the apex decision-making body in the SCO. 
  • This Council meets at the SCO summits, which are held each year in one of the member states' capital cities
  • The Council of Heads of Governments is the second-highest council in the organization.

The Secretariat of the SCO

  • The Secretariat of the SCO is the primary executive body of the organization. 
  • It serves to implement organizational decisions and decrees, documents (such as declarations and agendas), functions as a document depository for the organization, arranges specific activities within the SCO framework, and promotes and disseminates information about the SCO. 
  • It is located in Beijing
  • Each Member State has a Permanent Representative to the SCO.

The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS)

  • The RATS was established at the SCO Summit held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 2004.
  • The RATSis a permanent organ of the SCO which serves to promote cooperation of member states against terrorism, separatism and extremism.
  • It enables SCO members to exchange vital intelligence, legal expertise, and know-how, as well as facilitate the extradition of terrorists.
  • It is headquartered in Uzbekistan Tashkent.
  • Each member state also sends a permanent representative to RATS. 
  • The SCO Secretary General and the Executive Director SCO RATS are appointed for a term of 3 years.
  • The official working languages of the Shanghai Cooperation organization are Chinese and Russian.

The conference in Varanasi

  • The recent conference aimed to enhance tourism in the SCO region.
  • A joint action plan was formulated and approved to implement the agreement between the member states on cooperation in the tourism sector.
  • The action plan includes various initiatives, such as promoting the SCO tourism brand, showcasing cultural heritage, sharing information and digital technologies in tourism, and collaborating in medical and health tourism.
  • The member countries will conduct joint activities, including SCO tourism exhibitions, SCO Food Festivals, webinars and seminars on tourism, conferences, and expert sessions to promote tourism in the region.
  • The conference also endorsed the Action Plan for the 'Year of Tourism Development in the SCO Space in 2023.'
  • The plan includes a list of events and activities to showcase tourism products of SCO member states.
  • Varanasi has been designated as the first tourism and cultural capital of SCO.


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Fact File

What is pre-arrest bail? 

  • Recently, the Supreme Court granted permission to the Karnataka Lokayukta to file a petition challenging a Karnataka High Court ruling that allowed BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa to receive pre-arrest bail.

Types of Bail

  • According to Black's Law Dictionary, "bail" refers to securing the release of an individual from legal custody by ensuring that they will appear in court at a designated time and place and subject themselves to the court's jurisdiction and judgement.
  • Although Indian statutes do not expressly define "bail," the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) differentiates between "bailable" and "non-bailable" offenses.
  • The CrPC outlines three types of bail –
  • Regular bail under Sections 437 and 439; 
  • Interim bail, which is granted when a regular or anticipatory bail application is pending before the court; and 
  • Anticipatory or pre-arrest bail.
  • Section 438(1) of the CrPC introduced the provision for 
  • "anticipatory bail" after the 41st Law Commission Report in 1969 recommended a measure to protect against arbitrary violations of personal liberty, such as when politicians detain their opponents in false cases.

Anticipatory bail

  • Anticipatory bail can be granted under Section 438(1) of the CrPC if a person has reason to believe that they may be arrested for a non-bailable offense.
  • This bail can be granted by the High Court or Court of Session, even if the actual arrest has not occurred or an FIR has not been filed for the offense.
  • Non-bailable offenses are more serious and carry a minimum punishment of three years of imprisonment.
  • In 2005, Section 438 was amended to lay down principles for considering the grant of anticipatory bail, such as the likelihood of the accused fleeing or tampering with evidence.
  • Some states, like Maharashtra, Odisha, and West Bengal, have modified versions of Section 438 due to state-level legislative powers to amend certain provisions of the CrPC.
  • During the Emergency, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand did away with anticipatory bail through the CrPC (UP Amendment) Bill, 1976, but in 2019, both states reintroduced the provision.
  • When granting anticipatory bail, the Sessions Court or High Court can impose certain conditions, such as making oneself available for police interrogation and not leaving India without the court's permission.

What is the McMahon Line and why has the US Senate passed a resolution in support of India's position on it?

  • resolution has been introduced in the US Senate by a bipartisan team of a Republican and a Democrat, which reiterates the US's recognition of the McMahon Line as the international boundary between China and India in Arunachal Pradesh
  • The resolution confirms India's established position that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India, despite China referring to it as 'South Tibet'.

McMahon Line

  • The McMahon Line is the de facto boundary between China and India in the Eastern Sector, specifically between Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet from Bhutan to Myanmar.
  • China has historically disputed the boundary and claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).
  • The McMahon Line was drawn during the Simla Convention of 1914, which attempted to settle Tibet's sovereignty question and avoid further territorial disputes in the region.
  • The convention divided the Buddhist region into "Outer Tibet" and "Inner Tibet", with the former remaining in the hands of the Tibetan Government at Lhasa under Chinese suzerainty, and the latter under the direct jurisdiction of the newly formed Republic of China.
  • The McMahon Line was named after McMahon, the chief British negotiator, and was signed only by McMahon on behalf of the British government and Shatra on behalf of Lhasa, as China repudiated it.
  • Disputes regarding the McMahon Line have persisted since its creation, and after the communists took power in 1949, China pulled out of all international agreements and demanded a renegotiation of all its borders.
  • During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, China was able to quickly overpower India and make deep inroads into Indian territory across the McMahon Line, but its forces retreated to pre-war positions after the unilateral ceasefire was announced on November 21.


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