Image by Rajesh Balouria from Pixabay 

Recently, the city of Varanasi has been named the first-ever SCO Tourist and Cultural Capital for the period 2022-23 at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Samarkand. The nomination was announced at the meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State in Samarkand, which was attended by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The development was later released in a press note.

The nomination of Varanasi as the first ever SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital will promote tourism, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between India and the SCO member countries. It also underlines India's ancient civilizational links with the Member States of SCO, especially the Central Asian Republics.

Uzbekistan has handed over the rotating presidency of the grouping to India for the year 2022-23. Our Prime Minister thanked all the member states for endorsing Varanasi to be one.

The SCO recognition is befitting for the historic city that would open the door for greater cultural and people-to-people ties between India and the other member countries of the bloc.

It has been circulated that several events would be organised by the Uttar Pradesh Government in collaboration with the Centre to celebrate the recognition.

The last SCO summit was held in 2019 in Kyrgyzstan. The summit was attended by the head of states of the SCO members - India, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The summit also decided to give permanent membership of the bloc to Belarus and Iran.

The Indian Prime Minister also talked about India's innovation and start-up models. He also added that India can be transformed to a manufacturing hub. He also said that all the countries in the forum can play a constructive role in the post-Covid era, particularly in furthering economic recovery and strengthening supply chains.

On the sidelines of the summit, Modi had a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin where he discussed about Indo-Russian cooperation in various sectors. He also met the Iranian President and emphasized on the connectivity between South East Asia and Central Asia with a focus on Iran's Chabahar Port.

The declaration has again connoted that India has global leadership capabilities.

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