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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.



  • 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.






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.



  • 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.



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)