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BRICS 8th Annual Summit at Goa

Dr Raj Kumar Sharma writes: Engaging with BRICS gives India diplomatic space to adjust its relations with the major and emerging powers and consolidate on issues where there is convergence of interests.

The annual BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit to be held in Goa from 15 to 16 October, 2016 is an important event that comes at a time when India Pakistan relations are at a low after the Uri terror attack. At the global level, Russia and China have been challenging the US on areas of conflict like Syria, South China Sea, Crimea and North Korea. India’s recent close relationship with the US has not gone down well with both Russia and China and this is where the BRICS summit will become important, where there would be an opportunity to engage these two veto power countries.

Initially, it was BRIC which came into being in 2009 and next year in 2010, South Africa joined it making it BRICS. In this phase, Russia had a manageable relationship with the US but after the Crimean crisis in 2014, Russia is under economic sanctions from the West, making it dependent on Chinese economy. This has increased China’s stature in the grouping aided by its economic progress, which is the second largest economy in the world. Barring India, other BRICS economies are witnessing slowdown and mutual cooperation in areas like ‘aircraft manufacturing & maintenance’ could be useful.[1] Incidentally, BRICS came into being after the 2008-09 global recession and primarily has economic agenda. However, from New Delhi summit in 2012, National Security Advisors from BRICS countries are annually meeting, signaling a shift towards political and security issues. In line with this transformation of BRICS, India is expected to pitch for stronger BRICS stand on terrorism. This may, however, not go through due to China’s proximity to Pakistan. BRICS may not effectively help India in dealing with its security concerns; however, it has economic advantages for India.

India has five point agenda for the summit – institution building, implementation, integrating, innovation and continuity. India may propose for a credit agency for the emerging markets, market research mechanisms and a BRICS bank institute in the country.[2] China’s proposal to create a BRICS free trade area is unlikely to go through as there is economic disparity within the group. Also, the intra-BRICS is not too high for realization of such a proposal. Due to prevailing tensions with Pakistan, India has invited BIMSTEC countries instead of SAARC nations to the BRICS summit. In addition, leaders of Afghanistan and Maldives too have been invited. There have been calls for expansion of BRICS from countries like Egypt, Argentina and Indonesia in the past. However, this may be too early for BRICS to expand as it lacks institutional mechanisms to do so at this point. Engaging with BRICS gives India diplomatic space to adjust its relations with the major and emerging powers and consolidate on issues where there is convergence of interests. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to lessen the extent of divergence on issues of mutual concern.

Endnotes

[1] Push for trade pact will polarise BRICS nations, warns S. Africa, http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/brics-pact-may-polarise-nations/article9212019.ece

[2] India may lay BRICS for united terror fight, new financial order,  http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/india-may-lay-brics-for-united-terror-fight-new-financial-order/articleshow/54820338.cms

 

 

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