Expectations from the New Delhi BRICS Summit

Late this month on 29 March 2012, the 4th BRICS (S- South Africa joined the grouping in 2011, which was formed in 2009 comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China) summit is going to be held in Indian capital New Delhi. The summit, held in one of critical junctures of international politics with crises in global financial system particularly, and in global political system in terms of managing crises in the Middle East being clearly evident, has propelled the grouping representing more than half of world’s population and 35 per cent of its foreign exchange reserves to play an active and vigorous role at global level.

The increasing confidence among the leaders of the grouping, as reflected in their pronouncements, supported by robust performance in these economies coupled with the rise of popular confidence in these countries, indicate that the New Delhi summit will prove a decisive turning point in making the world a fair place under multipolar power structures in global governance as well as global economy.

It is understandable that some of the global powers have become critical of the rise of the grouping as it not only strikes at the roots of global divides reflected in antiquated terminologies like North-South divide or East-West divide. In the post-cold war world, the equations and balance of power in international politics has changed with the rise of India, Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa. The emergence of these countries has naturally challenged the dominance of certain powers in global decision making process, whether affecting the politics of Middle East, particularly the ongoing Syrian crisis or the Iran crisis.

Few examples will corroborate this point. While there is pressure on these countries to avoid trade with Iran, particularly in oil, these countries particularly India and China developed novel mechanisms to bypass or nullify the pressures. Similarly aftermath of the Delhi bomb blast in last month targeting the Israeli diplomatic staff, India could play well its enhancing clout and diplomatic card to stave off pressure to snap trade ties with Iran. In the Syrian crisis as well, Russia and China could, much to the chagrin of the US and some countries in the EU, could resist pressure and vetoed the proposal of use of force against the Assad regime. The point here is how to achieve peace and security without at all using force through a medium of peace negotiations and deliberations. Many such cases indicate the point that BRICS has come of the age and is now destined to play an active role in international politics.

BRICS leaders are highly upbeat about the forthcoming New Delhi summit. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in his recent visit to New Delhi in the background of the preparation for the summit, expressed satisfaction that the grouping can play an active and positive role in global governance. As reported by the Chinese official daily, China Daily, Jiechi said, “I believe that the upcoming fourth summit will be crowned with success.” He went further to describe the emerging situation in international politics as a game changer as it catapults the rising nations to play an active role in international politics. He said, “China is looking forward to promoting bigger and constructive role of BRICS nations in international affairs and relaxation of regional tension so to maintain stability.” Undoubtedly, the rising prowess of grouping with enormous natural resources to complement each other (for example Russia’s rich resources such as oil and gas and in the field of military technology can be traded with India and China, and similarly the latter’s huge human resources and expertise in the areas of software technology and in some other areas can be beneficial to Russia. The process can be extended to other two BRICS countries). Speaking at a press conference on the sideline of the annual parliamentary session in Beijing on 6 March 2012, Jiechi was optimistic that the BRICS can play an active role in mitigating international crises and the forthcoming summit will find ‘new impetus for global economic recovery and help enhance people’s confidence.’

The two day BRICS Academic Forum held in Delhi from 4-6 March 2012 too came out with many novel ideas to further strengthen the BRICS format and its utility in international scenario. Attended by about 60 scholars from the BRICS countries, the forum gave 18 useful recommendations to make the grouping more effective. It suggested the establishment of BRICS development bank and investment fund, which can work as facilitators for joint projects in the countries of the grouping for economic development. It is the fact that the grouping members are not at same plane in terms of economic development, and some of the countries have differences on some crucial issues; hence establishment of joint initiatives such as joint banks, joint forums for sharing information such as in the fields of markets and trade potentials, as suggested by the forum, can be a great step towards developing mechanisms in which the grouping can have level playing field without differences creeping in while taking common stand on various global issues. The Academic Forum announced, “As home to nearly half of the world's population, BRICS have a responsibility to create pathways for sustainable development. BRICS could learn from policy successes as well as failures of the past from within and outside BRICS, and seek to implement policy solutions for sustainable development.”

India’s official pronouncements on the rise of BRICS are also equally noteworthy. It is the first time India is hosting the summit in its capital. India’s Secretary (Economic Affairs) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Sudhir Vyas, while addressing the academic forum minced no words in pronouncing the rising clout of the grouping. He expressed confidence that BRICS can provide alternate format for global development and towards countering various global menaces such as terrorism and drug trafficking and religious fundamentalism. In his words, “BRICS is a trans-continental grouping with increasing geo-political significance.” He further emphasized that BRICS is not a geographical grouping like the Association of South East Asian Nations, or commodity-based like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or security-based like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but ‘a new growth pole in a multi-polar world.’ One thing is clearly evident in recent years since the rise of the grouping in 2009 amidst global financial crisis and political instability that the grouping has emerged a very confident, strong and vibrant organization cutting across geography and ideology. Perhaps it is the only powerful global body which has emerged not in terms of geographic divisions, or on a particular issue of concern, rather it has emerged has a global body, with global objectives towards establishing a ‘just, fair and equitable world order.’

The New Delhi summit will take place under the broad rubric ‘BRICS Partnership for Stability, Security and Growth.’ This broad rubric covers almost everything in ongoing global developments in which the grouping has stakes. The grouping will take into account the changing parameters of international politics into account. Particularly the issues of global economic crisis, the crisis in Middle East, the Afghanistan crisis, the crisis in global bodies like International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and issues of religious extremism, terrorism, and drug trafficking will most likely crop up during the 4th summit meeting of the grouping in New Delhi late this month.

Besides addressing global issues, the grouping will also take steps to strengthen mutual relations particularly in the field of economic developments and in developing common mechanisms towards various global issues. That BRICS grouping, signifying the rise of multipolar world, has emerged a global player with a strong voice. This has become a foregone conclusion. The forthcoming Delhi summit will not only reiterate this fact, but will also pronounce many new mechanisms to further strengthen multipolar world structure towards establishment of a just and fair world order.

Dr Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra is part of the research faculty at the Centre for Central Eurasian Studies, University of Mumbai, India.

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