Tensions in West Asia have disrupted global shipping and revived interest in the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor. Better freight and passenger connectivity between Southern India and Russia’s Far East will open new areas for bilateral cooperation such as the export of machinery, auto parts and engineering goods from India, and progressively integrate the economies of the two countries.
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After a year affected by a sustained polycrisis, global geopolitics in 2024 remains a delicate dance between hope and realism. Ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza cast uncertain shadows, while Taiwan and the South China Sea present potential flashpoints. Indian diplomacy will have to navigate old and new challenges, while promoting India’s expertise in digital technology, as also managing its own upcoming parliamentary elections.
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.
The BRICS Summit in Johannesburg has drawn international attention to the grouping’s past record of achievements and failures, its strained internal dynamics, and new challenges. As BRICS heads into its 18th year, its success and way forward will depend on the members’ ability to tackle the principal challenge of retaining its internal solidarity while balancing expansion and its impact and influence in the world.
The 15th BRICS summit is set to take place on August 22-24 in Johannesburg. Against a backdrop of escalating global tensions, the summit's agenda encompasses crucial topics including greater representation of the Global South, reform of MDBs, and geopolitical flashpoints like the Ukraine crisis. The summit's outcomes will extend beyond the grouping and redefine the landscape of international cooperation among emerging economies.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict has led to the resurgence of interest in Central Asian as an alternate trade corridor between Europe and Asia. Timely investment in connectivity projects like the Middle Corridor and the INSTC by regional stakeholders, as well as by the EU, China and India, must now build on this interest to create new regional, international, and cross-continental transport corridors.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's growing importance is seen in the numerous new applicants waiting in line for membership. The 23rd SCO Summit hosted by India on July 4 saw progress in areas like digital transformation and economic cooperation. However, timidity in acting on foundational issues like anti-terrorism reflects the internal contradictions and tensions within member states - a continuing challenge for SCO.
Last week, an African peace delegation travelled to Kyiv and Moscow, presenting them with a 10-point plan for peace. While the plan received mixed reactions, the African initiative was a courageous step towards peace. The effort coincides with India proposing the AU join the G20, and South Africa’s entry into the troika of G20 presidencies next year.
After many early achievements, BRICS is now in gridlock, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, India-China border tensions, and the Ukraine conflict. Despite its apparent diplomatic bankruptcy, 19 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America are eagerly waiting in line to join the grouping.
India, as chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, hosted the foreign ministers’ meet in Goa last week. What would have been an important and expanding regional grouping has been complicated by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the increased influence of China and an obstructionist Pakistan. Still, India has played its role with an eye on the long term.