From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : BRICS, NDB.
Mains level : Paper 2- BRICS's potential for coordination on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief .
“BRICS” is an acronym coined by Jim O’Neill in 2001. In the start of the 21st century, BRICS seemed like the future economic powerhouse. Somehow this picture faded a little with time. This article shows the resilience and potential demonstrated by BRICS in times of Covid-19. It throws light on the latest initiatives of BRICS like New Development Bank. Finally what lies in the future for BRICS?
The “I” in BRICS
India has reinforced its reputation as a rapidly emerging pharmacy of the world.
As the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, India has exported the drug to many countries like Russia, Brazil, Israel, U.S, SAARC and Gulf nations.
Pharma-alliance: The above developments have set the stage for India to forge an inclusive BRICS-driven pharma alliance, which could also actively explore the production of vaccines.
The “C” in BRICS
Despite allegations, China has responded strongly in containing the pandemic, leveraging its position as the workshop of the world.
China, using it’s manufacturing capabilities, responded to the disease by providing the “hardware” — masks, gloves, coveralls, shoe covers and testing kits — to hotspots across the globe.
Under its Health Silk Road doctrine, the Chinese are reaching out to two of the worst global hotspots, Italy and Iran.
China has also rolled out a medical air bridge for Europe.
The “R” in BRICS
Despite fighting the virus at home, Russia too has sent its doctors and virologists overseas including an air mission to Italy.
At the request of U.S. President Donald Trump, Russia offered help in the form of medical experts and supplies.
The “S” in BRICS
South Africa, the current rotating head of the African Union, is engaged in framing a pan-African response to COVID-19.
The “B” in BRICS
Only Brazil’s response may need a course correction.
In Brazil’s case resistance to breaking the infection chains through travel bans, lockdowns, isolation and testing appear to have led to an infection surge.
Where does the NDB’s model fit in this picture?
The New Development Bank of the BRICS has already demonstrated the way forward to allocate financial resources to combat COVID-19.
In April, NDB announced that it is going to disburse a $1 billion emergency loan to China, and subsequently to India, South Africa and Brazil.
The NDB had the financial heft to provide $10 billion in “crisis-related assistance” to BRICS member countries.
The next step for BRICS – COORDINATION
BRICS has demonstrated their comparative strengths as providers of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR).
BRICS countries now need to pool and coordinate their efforts, in partnership with the WHO, and Europe and North America, as part of a global assault on the virus.
BRICS countries also need to earmark resources and assets to combat a whole range of natural disasters, with special focus on the emerging economies and the global south.
The NDB’s financial model demonstrated to address the pandemic, can now become a template to address natural disasters.
Bodies like BRICS have remained the favourite child of UPSC. Be it questions in prelims or mains. A question based on the regional grouping could be asked by the UPSC, for ex- “BRICS nations have proved to be more than merely an economic grouping. In light of the above statement, discuss the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) potential of the BRICS countries.”
BRICS in future can leverage the coordination among them to work on finding the vaccine and also build on the experience gathered from the pandemic to form a disaster response policy in the future.
- BRICS is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
- Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs”), before the induction of South Africa in 2010.
- The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs; all are members of G20.
- Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits. China hosted the 9th BRICS summit in Xiamen on September 2017, while Brazil hosted the most recent 11th BRICS summit on 13-14 November 2019.
New Development Bank and the Fortaleza Declaration
- During the sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza (2014), the leaders signed the Agreement establishing the New Development Bank (NDB).
- In the Fortaleza Declaration, the leaders stressed that the NDB will strengthen cooperation among BRICS and will supplement the efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global development, thus contributing to collective commitments for achieving the goal of strong, sustainable and balanced growth.
- The bank was established in July 2015 by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
- The aim of the bank is to mobilize funding for infrastructure and sustainable development.
- Its ownership structure is unique, as the BRICS countries each have an equal share and no country has any veto power.
- In this sense, the bank is a physical expression of the desire of emerging markets to play a bigger role in global governance.
- NDB was created to help fill the funding gap in the BRICS economies and was intended to grow its global scope over time.
- The bank, with its subscribed capital base of US$50bn, is now poised to become a meaningful additional source of long-term finance for infrastructure in its member countries.