From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : BRICS summits headed by India
Mains level : Paper 2- BRICS and challenges
The 13th BRICS summit is set to be held on September 9 in digital format under India’s chairmanship
Challenges and opportunities for BRICS
- The importance of BRICS is self-evident: it represents 42% of the world’s population, 30% of the land area, 24% of global GDP and 16% of international trade.
- Weathering geopolitical challenges: Member states have been carrying BRICS forward in an era of complex geopolitics.
- They have bravely continued holding dozens of meetings and summits, even as India-China relations were strained after Galwan valley incident.
- Internal challenges: There is also the reality of the strained relations of China and Russia with the West, and of serious internal challenges preoccupying both Brazil and South Africa.
- On the other hand, a potential bond emerged due to the battle against COVID-19.
- Challenges to trade ties: BRICS has been busy deepening trade and investment ties among its member states.
- The difficulty stems from China’s centrality and dominance of intra-BRICS trade flows.
- How to create a better internal balance remains a challenge, reinforced by the urgent need for diversification and strengthening of regional value chains.
- China’s aggression: Beijing’s aggressive policy, especially against India, puts BRICS solidarity under exceptional strain.
- Lack of support: BRICS countries have not done enough to assist the Global South to win their optimal support for their agenda.
Does BRICS truly matter?
- The grouping has gone through a reasonably productive journey.
- Acts as a bridge: It strove to serve as a bridge between the Global North and Global South.
- It developed a common perspective on a wide range of global and regional issues.
- It established the New Development Bank; created a financial stability net in the form of Contingency Reserve Arrangement; and is on the verge of setting up a Vaccine Research and Development Virtual Center.
Immediate goals: 4 priorities
- As the current chair, India has outlined four priorities.
- Reforms of multilateral institutions: The first is to pursue reform of multilateral institutions ranging from the United Nations, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the World Trade Organization and now even the World Health Organization.
- Reform needs global consensus which is hardly feasible in the current climate of strategic contestation between the U.S. and China and the devastation caused by COVID-19.
- Nevertheless, Indian officials rightly remind us that BRICS emerged from the desire to challenge dominance (by the U.S.) in the early years of the century, and it remains committed to the goal of counter-dominance (by China) now.
- Combating terrorism: Tragic developments concerning Afghanistan have helped to focus attention sharply on this overarching theme, stressing the need to bridge the gap between rhetoric and action.
- China, for example, feels little hesitation in supporting clear-cut denunciations of terrorist groups and supports Pakistan, which is host to several international terrorist groups.
- BRICS is attempting to pragmatically shape its counter-terrorism strategy by crafting the BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan.
- Counter Terrorism Action Plan contains specific measures to fight radicalisation, terrorist financing and misuse of the Internet by terrorist groups.
- Technology and digital solution: Promoting technological and digital solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals and expanding people-to-people cooperation are the other two BRICS priorities.
It is necessary for leaders, officials and academics of this grouping to undertake serious soul-searching and find a way out of the present predicament.