BRICS faces a decisive moment

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   Aditya Vashisht

The 15th BRICS summit which is going to be held in South Africa is the first in-person summit since 2019, in which except the Russian President Vladimir Putin, all other heads of states are going to attend in-person. Moreover, invitations have been laid down to 69 states, including all African states, a step which clearly demonstrates the significance which the BRICS is gaining.

This BRICS summit is being held exactly one and half years from the day war between Russia and Ukraine commenced. In these one and a half years, several changes have been witnessed. It is evidently clear that Russia’s stature has risen further around the world, especially in the Global South, and that this stature is going to rise further. Along with China, Russia is effectively solidifying its position as champion of the Global South. Moreover, many countries, ranging from the Middle East to Africa and to Latin America, are now actively seeking to become part of groupings which shall provide them an alternative avenue for facilitating their development.

Thus it is in this background that the BRICS summit is going to be held. Veritably, the biggest issue which is expected to be deliberated upon is its expansion.

It needs to be mentioned that there are more than 40 nations who are interested in becoming part of the BRICS grouping. These include nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Argentina, Indonesia, Algeria, Ethiopia, Egypt etc. This phenomenal rise in BRICS popularity can be attributed to the desire of these nations to further diversify their partnerships with the other two poles i.e. Russia and China. Moreover, becoming part of the BRICS shall ensure that they are not cowered down by the imbalance which exists at present in the global economic system, which is too heavily tilted towards the West. Some among them are nations like Iran, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba etc. which have been at the receiving end of the hostility on the part of the US-led collective west. For them BRICS provides a golden opportunity.

The prospect for expansion is indeed exciting. Though there exist divergent views among the founding members regarding it.

At the outset, Russia, China and South Africa are strongly in favour of the expansion of membership for their own reasons. For Russia its priority is to ensure that more and more nations veer away from the influence of the collective West. Expansion of membership of a group where it has a commanding position shall send any attempts by the collective West at its isolation to the graveyard. Further, expansion will add itself as a sweet icing upon its already successful efforts to court Africa, with the summit being held just after the highly successful Russia-Africa summit.

For the Chinese, the basic premise is to use their enormous capacity to fund and facilitate the development of the Global South, which shall help them in increasing their influence. For them BRICS provides them an opportunity to be the veritable leader of a broad multilateral grouping which shall play a significant role in the development of several nations. This is in sync with their strategy to prop up alternatives to the elements which the collective West uses to maintain its hegemony.

The main concern for South Africans seems to be that the BRICS grouping top priority remains Africa. This explains the choice of the theme: “BRICS and Africa” and the invitation to all 54 African states to attend the grouping. Thus their priority seems to be Africa-centric.

The Indians, who at first were wary about expansion, have come round to accept the idea. But in their characteristic manner, they have adopted a cautious approach, stressing upon the need to develop a framework for admission. The main reason for their hesitation is touted to be that the expansion of the group shall make it ‘Sino-centric’ and that shall make it a forum of anti-Western activities, a prospect which India is uncomfortable with due to its growing partnership with the West.

It must be mentioned that such concerns are not entirely correct. For starters, the BRICS is not a political forum nor is it exclusive in character. It is a group focused on economic matters, whose sole aim is to provide an alternative mechanism for facilitating the development of the developing world. Moreover, among the founding members apart for India, Brazil and South Africa too have important partnerships with the collective West, and so does many other nations interested to join the grouping such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Nigeria etc.

The non-political nature of the BRICS automatically dilutes the claim of it becoming CHina-centric. As regarding its becoming ‘anti-West’, India should not forget that it itself is aiding de-dollarization by actively promoting trade settlements in local currencies.

In fact instead of India’s cautious stand being anti-BRICS, as some have declared, India is in a way promoting further development of the BRICS’ definite structure since the group will have a formal official, system to admit memberships, which shall bring at par with other multilateral organizations.

Brazil’s stance is similar to that of India in some sorts, since it favours a gradual expansion which ensures the maintenance regional balance and which shall ensure that the eminent status of the five members is maintained.

Therefore the 15th summit of the BRICS shall be an important one since it shall aid in deciding the future of the group. The leaders of the grouping indeed face a decisive moment, the way forwards lies in conducting proper deliberations in a speedy manner so that the BRICS expands to make a mark upon the world.

The writer is a blogger. [email protected]

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