The decision to invite six countries — Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE — to join BRICS as full members has opened the grouping to a new geopolitical era. India can now play a seminal but challenging role in this evolved dynamic, given its growing cooperation with the West on the one hand and its active pursuit of the interests of the Global South on the other.
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The consecutive Presidencies of the G20 for India, Brazil and South Africa provides a rare, unique opportunity to forge an agenda common to both the G20 and IBSA. The timing is coincident: with Russia and China consumed by conflict and zero-Covid respectively, BRICS has receded. IBSA can convert both crises into an opportunity and become relevant to the Global South’s current and future challenges.
Brazil will head to the polls in a runoff this month to choose its next president. Will it be incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, or former president Lula da Silva? Both are popular with their voter bases, but both have hurdles to overcome, most notably the economy, and have differences on their global political alignment – particularly important as Brazil will be the G20 President in 2024.
The shadow of the Ukrainian war was visible at the G7 summit. Anti-Russian formations were expected, but the extensive reference to China drew attention. The leaders did their part by extensively discussing challenges relating to climate, energy, environment, health, and food security. It is now for the G7 governments to deliver, to be taken seriously.
The Galwan crisis, pandemic and the Ukrainian war have weakened the BRICS’ credibility, a forum that has played a pivotal role in articulating the case for reformed multilateralism. Beyond grandiose rhetoric and vested interests, these five nations need to first infuse the grouping with internal solidarity and enhance mutual trust for peace, stability and prosperity in the Global South.
On May 6, 2022, Amb. Rajiv Bhatia presented his remarks at the BRICS Think Tank Symposium held in Chongqing, China. Ambassador Bhatia traced the Ukrainian war crisis and its linkage to the grouping, while also elucidating that the Sino-Indian stalemate on transboundary disputes, UNSC membership permanency and leadership within the global south has harmed effective resolutions in the multilateral forum.
The Oct 30-31 G20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome took several important steps to accelerate economic recovery and health security. In the absence of several Eurasian leaders, India played a significant role especially on climate and energy. The G20 will now acquire greater salience in India's foreign policy, as it readies to lead the grouping in 2023.
India hosted the 13th BRICS summit on September 9, celebrating 15 years of the multilateral. The leaders committed to fighting terrorism and reforming multilateral organisations, among other diverse aspects. However, the grouping clearly needs better implementation strategies if the agreements reached, are to be truly successful.
The 13th BRICS summit will be held virtually on 9 September 2021 and India is the host. The grouping has managed to hold its ground in an era of increasingly complex geopolitics. While immediate goals are important, in the longer term it must cooperate on counter terrorism, improve trade and work towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Retrospective taxes. Asking OPEC to reduce production. Raising oil prices at the pump. India’s perplexing actions on energy seem designed to defeat the Modi government’s declared goals of disinvestment of the public sector and welcoming foreign capital.