BRICS at crossroads in polarised world


Photo Credit Twitter Zhang Meifang

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, June 22: The 14th BRICS Summit will kick-off in virtual mode in a few hours while the world order is most fluid and the principal concern of the emerging economies, including India, is to escape the fury of the collateral damage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has wreaked havoc on the world order with its invasion of Ukraine.

NATO is no more in the pages of history, but booting around next door.

The war is no more an event of the last century, but a brute reality of the contemporary times.

Starting off in 2009 as BRIC to add an S in 2010 with the addition of South Africa to the original bloc of Brazil, Russia, India and China, the forum espousing the cause of the multilateral reform is faced with an identity crisis.

India and China have seen off each other at the line of actual control (LAC) and the Galwan skirmish accounted for death toll on each side.

In March, the Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the relations cannot be normal until the border is peaceful.

With the two largest constituents lacking in cordial and warm relations, BRICS is faced with the challenge that it may get adrift in the mid-ocean for lack of a viable anchor.

The third constituent of the block, Russia, is a global pariah, and the history may never forgive its leader for butchering the innocent civilians in Ukraine.

Brazil and South Africa economies are no longer making the global investors sit up and sprint with their bagful of dollars.

The significance and the context were seemingly clear to Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he delivered brief message to the BRICS Business Forum.

“The world is faced with the pandemic induced economic challenges. Yet, India never gave up its resolve to transform the economy. With 7.65 per cent growth rate, India is the world’s fastest growing economy,” said Modi in his virtual message.

He expounded on the four-pronged approach of India to deal with the post-pandemic economic challenges.

“India is pursuing technology-led growth in areas of space, new economy, green hydrogen, green energy, drones, data,” said Modi.

Ease of doing business, reflected in over 70,000 start-ups, including over 100 unicorns, substantial improvement and expansion in infrastructure, with committed National Master Plan Infrastructure pipeline, besides digital transformation, unseen in the world for scale, are driving the transformation of the Indian economy.

“Indian digital economy will be USD 1 trillion in the near future,” said Modi while calling for the BRICS to study the transformative changes

The message of Modi is clear that the BRICS remains a forum of economic interest for India.

India is now clearly a pivot in the Indo-Pacific.

With a central role in the Indo-Pacific amid deepening of ties with the South-east Asian nations (ASEAN), India is aspiring for centrality in the emerging global supply chain order which will be in competition with China.

China’s ‘Belt Road Initiative’ is now an outreach of suspect value in the eyes of the countries in Asia and Africa, besides the island nations.

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, with active participation of the US, is rising to offer a BRI alternative.

The world order is fast-changing, and the global ties have much changed from 2009, while the Covid-19 pandemic has altered many past equations permanently.

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