Print Friendly, PDF & Email

EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : The BRICS test for India’s multipolarity rhetoric

 

Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Current events of international importance, G20, G7, BRICS etc.
  • Mains GS Paper II & III: Significance of G20 countries, Bilateral, regional and global grouping and agreements involving India or affecting India’s interests.

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • The upcoming BRICS summit in South Africa(August 22 to August 24) will be an important stress test for Indian diplomacy, and a harbinger of the shape of geopolitics to come.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

BRICS:

        

Background of BRICS formation:

  • Jim O’Neil’s conception of BRIC, a grouping of four emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China).
  • Two of its components joined hands with South Africa to form IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) in 2003.
  • China played a trump card, and bought South Africa into BRIC, thus turning it into BRICS.
    • IBSA has been unable to hold its summit since 2011.
    • BRICS has held 14 summits in the past 13 years.

 

Advantages of BRICS:

  • BRICS focused its attention on both geopolitical and economic dimensions.
  • By articulating a common view on key global and regional issues, it projected a non-western view.
    • This strengthened the world’s march towards multipolarity.
    • It helped to curb the dominating influence of the West.
  • On the economic front:
    • It launched the New Development Bank which has committed $8 billion(thirty two point eight)in 96 projects
    • Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), a financial mechanism to protect against global liquidity pressures
    • Comprehensive programme to expand trade and investment cooperation among the five-member countries.
  • The ability of BRICS to reorder or steer the global economy in any significant manner is deeply suspect
  • Its appetite to create economic agreements amongst its own members was limited
  • Historical capability to influence global geopolitics overestimated.

 

Why are other paths to global governance needed?

  • The deeply unrepresentative character of global governance institutions and mechanisms has led to their failure
  • Little possibility of a more inclusive system

 

Role of Forums like BRICS:

  • It will invariably fill an important institutional vacuum, no matter how inadequate.
  • That 40-odd countries have formally or informally expressed interest in joining an expanded BRICS
  • With the global order going through a major churn, middle powers, regional heavyweights and the outliers that are weighing their options
    • They would want to utilize forums such as BRICS to make sense of global geopolitical headwinds
  • The uncertainties arising out of the Ukraine war and the steady rise of China have provided a new lease of life to the otherwise moribund BRICS.

 

Where does India belong in the global geopolitical landscape?

  • India’s active participation in non-western multilateral forums such as BRICS, SCO is India’s response to the undemocratic and inequitable governance structures of institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and the UNSC.
  • India’s objective is not to create or belong to an anti-U.S./West bloc either.
  • India is located right in the middle of an emerging geopolitical fault line with interests on either side, welcomed by either side, but fully belonging to neither.

 

Implications:

  • This could either make India a bridge between the great divides or its lack of loyalty to neither could make it a victim of emerging geopolitical contestations.
  • The sharper the faultline becomes, the harder it will be for India to balance it.
  • The rise of competing blocs in the international system.
    • With China and Russia aligning their global interests
    • The organizations they are part of are likely to be pitted against the status quo order led by the U.S. and its allies.
  • India has traditionally opposed the creation of blocs as they go against the fundamental spirit of equitable global governance and multipolarity.

 

Multipolarity, in the Indian context:

  • It is about equity, inclusion and representation, not bloc rivalry, ideological or otherwise.

 

China’s role:

  • Given its size, economic influence and the spread of the Belt and Road Initiative and diplomatic bandwidth, China will influence an expanded BRICS
  • The more India helps strengthen non-western institutions and frameworks
    • The more it helps indirectly, China’s revisionist agenda.

 

Issues with BRICS:

  • The IBSA trio within the BRICS expected that China and Russia would fully back their bid to secure membership of the UN Security Council; they were disappointed.
  • Supporting ‘the aspiration’ of Brazil, India and South Africa to play a greater role in the UN, figures in every BRICS communiqué
    • It shows the grouping’s diplomatic bankruptcy.
  • The Chinese dramatic economic rise and, more importantly, military assertiveness.
    • This disturbed the group’s inner balance.
  • The post-Ukraine consolidation of Russia-China cooperation, economic malaise in South Africa that accelerates dependence on China
  • Brazil’s long fling with rightist policies followed by the return of a tired Lula da Silva as the President, have generated new tensions.
  • China’s push for a common currency for intra-BRICS trade is also symptomatic of the group’s inner troubles.

 

Countries eager to join BRICS:

  • Latin America (four) – Argentina, Nicaragua, Mexico and Uruguay
  • Africa (five) – Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Senegal and Morocco
  • Asia (10) – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Türkiye, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Bangladesh.

 

Way Forward

  • The challenge before India is to choose between a China-centric world order or a West- centric world order, or balance the two.
  • India must keep its eyes firmly fixed on its goal: promote a more representative and equitable global governance
    • ensure that such an order does not end up undercutting its own national interests.
  • India must moderate the influence of China in non-western forums
    • It must make sure not to alienate other countries in the global South who may see merit in China’s efforts at expanding the membership of those forums.
  • South-south cooperation: We need to expand south-south cooperation to share experiences on food and agriculture production and make expanded efforts to share India’s experiences for countries in Africa and Asia.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

Do you think that BIMSTEC is a parallel organization like the SAARC ? What are the similarities and dissimilarities between the two ? How are Indian foreign policy objectives realized by forming this new organization? (UPSC 2022) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)