The successful conclusion of the 11th BRICS Summit in Brasilia is a measure of the grouping’s dynamism and ever growing relevance. As the joint statement noted, BRICS countries have been the “main drivers of global growth over the last decade”. The advent of BRICS reflects the shifting trends of the new emerging global economic order. BRICS has not just questioned the West’s global domination, it is attempting to shape a new thinking and a new world-view. The theme of the 11th BRICS Summit was “economic growth for an innovative future”. Innovation is indeed the calling card of the future. The history of innovation is the story of ideas. If we don’t innovate, we sleepwalk into oblivion.
As expected, the joint statement issued by BRICS leaders has called for an urgent need to strengthen and reform the UN and other multilateral organizations including the WTO and IMF. At a time when multilateralism is under attack from various international quarters, BRICS’ unflinching commitment to multilateralism has been exceptional. It is common knowledge that multilateralism under the ‘Bretton Woods’ idea never lived up to its expectations. What is indeed a greater irony is the fact that those who are attacking multilateralism today were the ones who created these institutions. It was not long ago that the Global South was asked to drink the globalization cup of hemlock for the greater glory of market. Now, when the developing countries have embraced globalization, they are being asked to de-globalise.
New multilateralism championed by BRICS has to be seen as shared prosperity. The joint statement has done well to place great importance to multilateralism as it is key to maintaining “peace and security, advance sustainable development and ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all”.
In the past few years, India has worked over time to build a global consensus against the scourge of terrorism. BRICS countries like India, Russia and China have become victims of terrorism. The Brasilia Summit has therefore done well to condemn terrorist attacks, including against member countries, in all forms and manifestations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned terrorism in unequivocal terms while addressing the plenary session. He termed terrorism as “the biggest threat to development, peace and prosperity”. Loss incurred by the world economy due to terrorism, he said, is to the tune of $1 trillion and economic growth in the developing countries has decreased by 1.5 %.
Mr. Modi also underlined the importance of intra-trade among BRICS countries which constitutes only 15% of the world trade. The joint statement also welcomed the holding of the BRICS Business Forum as it has a critical role in spurring economic and trade promotion. At a time of critical climate crisis, the joint statement has reiterated the BRICS’ commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also supports the implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted under the principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Indian Prime Minister’s bilateral meetings with Presidents of Brazil, Russia and China were equally productive. President Jair Bolsonaro has accepted India’s invitation to be the Chief Guest on India’s Republic Day next year which is a welcome step towards further strengthening India’s relations with Latin America.
BRICS has gained greater global clout thanks to member states’ sustained efforts to give the New Development Bank a new push. The Brasilia Summit has expressed its happiness at the progress made by NDB towards expanding its membership and welcomed the opening of NDB’s regional offices in member countries. It is in this context, the establishment of the Innovation BRICS Network and the New Architecture on Science, Technology and Innovation are significant steps to give BRICS greater visibility and legitimacy.
All said, any vibrant organization or grouping requires not just an imagination but also constant reaffirmation. BRICS must commit itself to working for an economy for the many–an economy that suits society, and not society subordinated to the economy.
Script: Dr. Ash Narain Roy, Director, Institute of Social Sciences