Senior officials from India and China as well as diplomats from various countries on Sunday took part in a Yoga event organised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which is also set to hold key meetings of the top leaders of the eight-member group. The SCO is comprised of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri along with SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov, Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) chairman Lin Songtian, and Deputy Chairman of SCO Committee for Good Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation Cui Li attended the event. Diplomats from all the SCO countries, including Pakistan, took part in the cultural events which included a demonstration of Chinese martial art Tai Chi and cultural events of member countries besides Yoga. The SCO events are assuming significance as the virtual summit of the SCO Heads of the State being hosted by Russia is scheduled to be held on November 10 in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to take part.

It will be followed by the SCO Heads of the Government being hosted by India which is planned to be held on November 30. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is scheduled to take part. It is yet to be decided as to whether the meeting will be virtual or with the direct presence of the leaders, officials said. Addressing the gathering on Sunday, Misri said, “India is a new member of the SCO but our association with the countries of the SCO Family’ dates back centuries and even millennia in some cases”. He said India has assumed the Chairmanship of the SCO Council of Heads of Government this year and is hosting the meeting of SCO premiers next month.

“We are playing a constructive role in enriching the agenda of the SCO and many initiatives proposed by India in the fields of economics and trade, start-ups, health care, S&T and culture have been supported by SCO members,” Misri said. “Today’s presentation on Yoga@SCO is especially relevant as it goes beyond race, colour, faith, religion and region. Yoga brings people together around the world. Recent years have seen an explosion in its popularity, especially since 2014, when the UN General Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution designating June 21 as the International Day of Yoga, he said.

“Today’s event is yet another indication of Yoga’s global appeal. It is a part of India’s contribution to strengthening cultural cooperation among SCO countriesI have been greatly impressed with the fervour with which Chinese people across the country practice yoga,” he said. In his address, Norov said despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the activities of the SCO, under the presidency of Russia, a lot of work has been done to implement the plans and priorities that were identified for this year.

“In the absence of regular face-to-face meetings, the Organisation’s activities quickly adapted to the new realities with the use of new formats and platforms of work, important meetings at the level of Ministers and heads of key agencies and departments were held in online format,” he said. “Next year the SCO will celebrate its 20th anniversary. In this anniversary year, in addition to official events, we have planned to hold art exhibitions, film festivals, Yoga and Tai Chi Day’, student football tournament, boxing tournament, marathon races in the cities of SCO member states where 8 Wonders of SCO’ are located,” he said.

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