India’s World- How Effective Is BRICS?
The 8th BRICS Summit recently ended in Goa with a long Declaration. BRICS is meant to highlight the combined potential of non-western powers controlling a quarter of the world’s landmass and accounting for 40% of its population. It is meant to be primarily a financial collective to promote trade relations among the member countries and therefore, it gives precedence to economic matters over domestic and foreign affairs of the nations. To promote growth, the five member countries have also set up their own development bank in parallel to the US dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The newly formed multi-lateral NDB has been widely praised in the BRICS Summit in Goa for its achievements over the last one year and its support for clean energy and sustainable development projects.
The country that is going to dominate certainly for coming years is USA but looking at these five emerging important economies, they have a weight and a contribution to make in terms of making the world multi polar. South African and Brazilian economies at this point of time are not doing particularly well and they have little complexities in their situation. India’s economy is overall stable. China is at a high positive growth. There is a downturn in the Russian economy which is expected to be positive by next year.
There has certainly been a success for these countries for coming along as a grouping which is now increasingly assertive about its rights. Geopolitically, it is a mixed bag because none of the member countries see themselves as a grouping that has to work against the west as all of them have substantial stakes with the west. The fastest growth of trade was seen in the countries with emerging economies between 1995-2007. The major country in trade is China as 2/3rd countries of the world have their trading partner as China. Role of BRICS is also related to other areas like finance to put pressure on IMF to give greater voting rights especially China. If we look at purely business and commerce, Chinese have evolved models which beat everybody hollow. Though China has emerged as the biggest seller but now it is projecting itself as a consumer market. Clearly, China is going to be the dynamo within the group.
All the member countries have their own set of issues in terms of population, size, GDP, growth rate and institutional development. This is where there is a shift from purely economic concerns to a larger area of interest to the developing nature of all these economies – which is about employment and equalizing the growth and development.
India- Russia relationship is based on continuity and common interests and new developments with USA will not affect that. As far as the strategic competition between India and China is concerned, China is bigger at the moment. India imports most of its defence requirements from Russia, USA and Israel. India is not in a position now at least to have strategic competition with China and for this it has to be non-reliant on imports. China has a major role in the economies of its neighbouring countries. Although BIMSTEC is a smart move in correct direction but it cannot be seen as alternative to SAARC or to isolate Pakistan. As far as terrorism is concerned, it is quite clear that none of the member countries are much interested to criticize Pakistan especially China as it has its stakes in that country. India cannot do anything without China. So, it is better that it looks at how intelligently it can use China in this game.
In a nutshell, the value of BRICS today would be to show how alternative development strategies can be evolved which would actually address the concerns of people.