PM Narendra Modi chaired the 13th BRICS Summit virtually.
The theme of the Summit, chosen by India, was, [email protected]: Intra-BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus.
The Summit saw the participation of all other BRICS Leaders – President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Xi Jinping of China, and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.
Highlighting the leading role that BRICS countries can play in the post-COVID global recovery, Prime Minister called for enhanced BRICS cooperation under the motto of ‘Build-back Resiliently, Innovatively, Credibly and Sustainably’.
At the conclusion of the Summit, the leaders adopted the ‘New Delhi Declaration’ and pledged resolve towards strengthening and reforming the multilateral system to make global governance more responsive and effective.
BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs. Since 2009, the governments of the BRICS states have met annually at formal summits.
Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs”) before the induction of South Africa in 2010.
The BRICS have a combined area of 39,746,220 km2 (15,346,101.0 sq mi) and an estimated total population of about 3.21 billion, or about 26.656% of the world land surface and 41.53% of the world population. Four out of five members are among the world’s ten largest countries by population and by area, except for South Africa, the twenty-fourth in both.
Achievements so far
- Served as a bridge between the Global North and Global South.
- Developed a common perspective on a wide range of global and regional issues.
- Established the New Development Bank.
- Created a financial stability net in the form of Contingency Reserve Arrangement.
- Now, planning to set up a Vaccine Research and Development Virtual Centre.
India’s immediate priorities
- Pursue reform of multilateral institutions such as the UN, World Bank, IMF, WTO and now even the WHO.
- But reform needs global consensus which is hardly feasible given the strategic tensions between the U.S. and China.
- There is a need to bridge the gap between rhetoric and action in this regard.
- E.g., Chinafeels little hesitation in supporting clear-cut denunciations of terrorist groups. It supports Pakistan, which is enmeshed with a host of international terrorist groups.
- In this context, BRICS is attempting to pragmatically shape its counter-terrorism strategy by crafting the BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan.
- It contains specific measures to fight radicalisation, terrorist financing and misuse of the Internet by terrorist groups.
- Promoting technological and digital solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Expanding people-to-people cooperation.
- Creating a better internal trade balance, and diversification and strengthening of regional value chains[remains a challengegiven China’s centrality and dominance of intra-BRICS trade flows].
- Increasing intra-BRICS cooperation in diverse areas like agriculture, disaster resilience, digital health, traditional medicine, and customs cooperation.
- China’s economic rise has created an imbalance within BRICS.
- China’s aggressive policy, especially against India, puts BRICS solidarity under exceptional strain.
- Strained relations of China and Russia with the West.
- Serious internal challenges preoccupying both Brazil and South Africa.
- Generally, an era of complex geopolitics.
BRICS countries have not done enough to assist the Global South to win their optimal support for their agenda, which has to be addressed by the BRICS leaders and other stakeholders.
BRICS negotiators need to master the art of brevity and tight drafting asunduly lengthy communiqués lead to the grouping’s weakness, not strength.