In the Bandung Conference in 1955, both India and China sought to take the leadership of the developing countries. As the NAM or the group of 77 gradually evolved, China was relegated to the background owing to its own internal problems whereas India emerged as the clear leader of the NAM and the developing world leaving behind both Egypt and Indonesia. China had resented the towering personality and the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru in the NAM. Now NAM is practically defunct and has lost its relevance though ritualistic and meaningless meetings still go on. In a sense BRICS had the potential to assume the collective leadership of the “Global South” in the 21stcentury when NAM had run out of steam.
The biggest USP of the IBSA summit is that IBSA is an outfit that is sought by the Chinese to be rendered infructuous after BRICS . Incidentally, just like NAM, IBSA was facilitated into existence by another Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who met with his counter-parts in 2003 in Evian. The establishment of IBSA was announced on June 6th, 2003 by signing of “Brasilia Declaration” by the external affairs ministers of India, Brazil and South Africa. This “Brasilia declaration” mentions the democratic credentials of the three member nations, their status as developing countries, and their capacity of acting on a global scale as the main reasons for coming together as a grouping.
The Chinese checkmate to India in BRICS must be dealt with coolly with a focus on invigorating the IBSA mechanism .India must do the necessary ground work and home work so that the “enhanced” BRICS does not end up swallowing and eventually digesting the “IBSA” where India has been the prime mover . We will discuss some of the historical antecedents and tactical responses that India can adopt to counter China while maintaining the leadership of the “Global South” in the international arena.
Both Egypt and Indonesia are very keen to join the BRICS. Other potential applicants may include Turkey, Nigeria and Mexico. Future membership of the BRICS should be criteria based and not driven by Chinese or Russian strategic interests in order to avoid intra-group squabbles. Here one would agree with the Russian suggestion for freezing the BRICS membership for the next few years. Despite having overlapping memberships, the two can act as complimentary to each other. One major difference between the two fora is the two tiered power structure of BRICS in which two of its members are also permanent, veto wielding members of the UNSC . As permanent members of the UNSC, neither Russia nor China is enthusiastic about the entry of Brazil, India or South Africa into the inner sanctorum . These two, Russia and China are also members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a quasi-security pact in Central Asia . There are apprehensions that the SCO agenda of Russia and China may contaminate the functioning of BRICS. India’s participation in BRICS is being questioned as costly . The relevance of South Africa’s membership is also debatable on economic grounds . Such a differential economic power equation is not conducive to long-term harmonious functioning of BRICS. Harsh Pant hits the bull’s eye when he says: “The narrative surrounding the rise of BRICS is as exaggerated as that of decline for the US. The tectonic plates of global politics are certainly shifting, but their movements are unpredictable. BRICS will remain an artificial construct, merely an acronym coined by an investment banking analyst, for some time to come” .
- 1. Adityanjee: Invading the strategic space: the Dragon fires another salvo at India,
- Adityanjee: Securitisation of the BRICS
- Rajinder Puri : Building China Brick by BRIC!
- Indian Express
- Jaswant Singh: Crumbling BRICS,
- Shyam Saran: BRICS and premature orbituaries,
- Rajeev Sharma: Natural partners: Why India needs to get closer to Japan,
- Op cit Adityanjee, #3
- Arkhangelskaya, Alexandra A: IBSA-past? BRICS-Future?
- Arvind Gupta: BRICS comes of age at Durban
- Op cit Jaswant Singh (#7)
- Op cit Adityanjee (#3)
- Op cit Shyam sharan (#8)
- Adityanjee (#3)
- Rajiv Kumar; BRICS: India’s costly time-pass.
- Roy Robins: One of the BRICS is not like the others.
- Harsh Pant: BRICS Nothing But a Chinese Front Group.
- Op cit Arkhangelskaya, Alexandra A (#11)
- G Ananthapadmanabhan and Atila Roque: India and Brazil: Time for a New Human Rights Partnership.