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.
India will be president of the G20 in 2023. The world’s most influential economic governance body is facing an existential crisis, where the major powers have fallen out. With geopolitical currents redefining geo-economics, India needs to be ready to emerge as the chief global diplomat.
The G7 has reached out to emerging economies which have, of late, been facing challenges on the economic front, brought on by the lingering pandemic and the mismanagement of the Ukraine crisis. They are also seeking, from the global south, a broader acceptance of their world view. Will it be forthcoming?
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 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.
India’s oil consumption and imports are likely to resume their upward trajectory as the economy opens up, after a temporary drop due to the pandemic. To secure its energy needs, the country should shift course from investing in oil and gas assets of emerging economies to those of developed nations. The oil-rich Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, such as Canada, Norway, and the U.S. can be given special consideration.
A new chief is due to occupy the chair of the UN Secretary General later this year. The lobbying for this prestigious global post has already begun. There is a rotation system that offers equal opportunities to regional blocs to promote their candidates. But this time, it's a toss between having the first woman to head the body, or continuing with the West-led bloc's candidate. Who will win? And where does India stand?