The leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Friday endorsed the holy city of Varanasi as the first ever tourist and cultural capital of the grouping for the year 2022-23. Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said this at a media briefing.
India’s oldest city, Varanasi was named the first-ever SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital at the 22nd Meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on Sept. 16, 2022. During the one year period till 2023 , a numbers of cultural outreach events attracting the presence of Indologists (people who study about India), scholars, authors, musicians and artists, photo journalists, travel bloggers and other invited guests, will be held in city.
The Indian delegation at the SCO summit in this historic Uzbek city of Samarkand was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Uzbekistan handed over the rotating presidency of the grouping to India for the year 2022-23.
“Prime Minister Modi thanked all the member states for endorsing Varanasi as the first ever SCO tourist and cultural capital during the upcoming year 2022-23,” Kwatra said. “This is a befitting recognition of the historic city and opens the door for greater cultural and people-to-people ties between India and the region,” he said.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.