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Issues aplenty for BRICS Summit

Issues aplenty for BRICS Summit
Highlights

The 8th BRICS Summit is set to take place on 15th and 16th of this weekend in Goa under the Chairmanship of India. BRICS, grouping Brazil, Russia,...

The 8th BRICS Summit is set to take place on 15th and 16th of this weekend in Goa under the Chairmanship of India. BRICS, grouping Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is a unique international mechanism which has been playing an important role in recalibrating global influence leading to positive effects on world economy and politics.

BRICS nations collectively account for 43 per cent of the world population, with around 25 per cent of the world’s total land area and close to 30 per cent of the world GDP with around 17 per cent share in the world trade, a recent release of the Press Information Bureau says.

These five major emerging economies are looking for their right place, in the global economic and political stage, which befits their potential and capabilities. Their rising prominence will surely help in resolving global issues in a better way.

In 2001, in a research paper on global economics titled ‘Building Better Global Economic BRICs’ which was published by Goldman Sachs, British economist Jim O’ Neill coined and used the acronym ‘BRIC’ for the first time for four rapidly developing economies-Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The effort began under the UPA-I government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh who preferred seeking alternatives for India's growth in the existing world order. In 2006, Brazil, Russia, India and China began a regular informal diplomatic coordination initiative, with annual meetings of Foreign Ministers on the margins of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

This successful interaction led to the decision that the dialogue was to be carried out at the level of Heads of State and Government in annual Summits. The First BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg (Russia) in 2009. The PM then had expressed happiness at the progress of the BRIC and at the invitation to attend the SCO though India has only an observer status in the organisation.

Though the summit cannot be treated as a US-bashing summit, it certainly discussed several issues independent of the US or G8 influence and on the regional cooperation. As for the BRIC, a new beginning had been made and it was hoped that it would certainly lead to a continued multilateral effort to safeguard the economies and ensure food security and energy security to the people of the regions.

The depth and scope of the dialogue among the Members of BRIC group – which became BRICS in 2011 with the inclusion of South Africa – kept on expanding from year to year. More than an acronym that identified countries emerging in the international economic order, BRICS became a new and promising political-diplomatic entity, far beyond the original concept which was envisioned for the financial markets.

Over the years BRICS has evolved in a phased and progressive manner, thereby very meticulously strengthening its two main pillars: (1) coordination in multilateral forums, with a focus on economic and political governance and (2) cooperation among members.

Intra-BRICS cooperation has also been solidifying with a clear and broad agenda which has been developed over the years. And this includes areas such as finance, agriculture, economy and trade, combating transnational crime, science and technology, health, education, corporate and academic dialogue and security, among others.

The group is geared up to tackle challenges in the social, economic and environmental fields, and create new opportunities for the members of the BRICS group in different areas especially with an eye on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

BRICS as well as other emerging market economies and developing countries do continue to face major financing constraints at times in addressing infrastructure gaps and sustainable development needs. To address these issues, BRICS has now under its belt, the New Development Bank (NDB), which will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging and developing economies.

And to compliment the working of the NDB, the grouping also has the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), with an initial size of $100 billion, to help countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures.

The idea to establish the Bank was proposed by India during the 4th BRICS Summit held in New Delhi in 2012. During the 6th BRICS Summit at Fortaleza (Brazil) all agreements were signed by BRICS members and in May 2015 K V Kamath from India was appointed as the President of the New Development Bank with its headquarters in Shanghai (China). The 7th BRICS Summit at Ufa (Russia) in July 2015 marked the entry into force of the agreement on the NDB.

Recently the Bank approved its first package of loans worth about $811 million. The four projects in Brazil, China, South Africa and India are all in the renewable and green energy development sphere. And to quote the NDB spokesperson, “There are many more new projects in the pipeline including projects from Russia.

They are at various stages of consideration or appraisal”. “NDB signifies developing countries’ coming of age; their aspirations to stand on their own feet.” The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had recently said, “BRICS acts as a vital pillar of hope for this world full of political challenges, safety-related challenges and economic challenges.”

In September 2016, the BRICS leaders met informally on the margins of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China and according to a media note issued on this occasion, the BRICS leaders underlined the importance of further strengthening strategic partnership guided by principles of openness, solidarity, equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness, mutually beneficial cooperation. They also underlined the importance of establishment of a just and equitable international order based on International law, as the press release recalls.

The BRICS leaders also strongly condemned the heinous acts of terrorism that continue to disrupt global peace and security and undermine social and economic confidence. They emphasised the need for a united global effort to combat terrorism in accordance with norms and principles of international law, including the UN Charter.

However, the strain in Indo-Pak relations and the questionable role of China are bound to impact the equation to some extent between the two countries in BRICS meet too and if China joins hands with Pakistan in creating an alternative to SAARC it would definitely leave its shadow on this five nation grouping.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, while sharing India’s plan of action during BRICS Chairpersonship, said, “We will adopt a five-pronged approach. It will comprise Institution Building, Implementation, Integration, Innovation, and Continuity with Consolidation.”

On the sidelines of the 8th BRICS Summit, there will also be the BRICS-BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) Outreach Summit which will see leaders from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand joining the BRICS leaders. The outcome of the same would be eagerly awaited as China is also seeking a major role in all the countries of BIMSTEC.

The strained India-China relations too could be dealt with in the BRICS (on the sidelines) summit. In a world where both defence and external policies of countries converge with their business interests, there is certainly a place for several groupings.

The weakening bond with Russia should also be strengthened. India should not lay overemphasis on Pakistan-centric terror talk. The world does not have time for others' problems. So, it would be better for India to tread the path diplomatically in all these groups.

Pakistan can hang onto the lapels of China, Turkey and Azarbaijan for its survival. But, its terror credentials will not help it much. India's moves shall be watched closely by several countries as its discourse changes.

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