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 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.
President Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to India in January helped correct the view that India-Brazil ties belong more in a multilateral forum. The accent this time was on the two countries’ congruence of interests amidst the current climate of geopolitical uncertainty and complex multipolarity and the scope for enhanced cooperation in four focus areas
India will host four prestigious international conferences, such as the India-Africa Forum Summit and the subsidiary SCO Summit in the course of the next three years. These are historic opportunities for the country to show global leadership and fulfil a diplomatic agenda that involves handling strategic competition and advancing partnerships
The following are remarks given by Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Gateway House at a panel discussion on ‘Contemporary Global Governance and the Role of IBSA’, at the IBSA Academic Forum hosted by RIS and the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.