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21 March 2023: Shared Buddhist heritage and its takeaways

    • Context:
    • A conference was hosted by India on “Shared Buddhist Heritage.”
    • It was hosted under the ambit of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization).
    • Scholars and experts from Russia, Myanmar, the UAE, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Bahrain, and Belarus participated.

    About SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization):

    • Under the name “Shanghai Five,” the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan established the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 1996 to foster mutual trust among member states, disarm border regions, and boost regional cooperation.
    • The Shanghai Five were renamed the SCO after Uzbekistan joined the organization in 2001.
    • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization founded on June 15, 2001, in Shanghai. The SCO Charter was signed in 2002 and came into force in 2003.
    • India and Pakistan joined in 2017.
    • The SCO now has eight member countries: China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
    • Four observer countries are Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia, and six “Dialogue Partners” are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey.
    • In 2021, a decision was reached to begin the process of admitting Iran as a full member of the SCO, and Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia became dialogue partners. Iran will become the newest member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in April 2023, under the chairmanship of India.
    • AIM: The SCO has primarily concentrated on regional security challenges, including the fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism, and religious extremism, since its formation in 2001. Currently, the SCO’s priorities include regional development.
    • The Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of External Affairs, and the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), a grantee body of the Ministry of Culture, convened the two-day meeting on March 14 and 15.
    • The conference’s goal was to re-establish trans-cultural relations and look for commonalities between Buddhist art of Central Asia, art styles, archaeological sites, and antiquity in various SCO museum collections.
    • The Conference is a one-of-a-kind gathering of minds in which countries from various geographical regions but with a common thread connecting them based on a shared civilization legacy, strengthened by Buddhist missionaries who played a major role in integrating various cultures, communities, and regions throughout the Indian subcontinent and Asia, will discuss various themes for two days, charting out ways to continue the age-old bonds into the future.
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