BRICS New Delhi Summit: Context and Significance

IITM CSC Article #15
28 March 2012


BRICS New Delhi Summit: Context and Significance


New Delhi will host its first BRICS Summit on 29th of March 2012. The BRIC grouping, comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China has come a long way since they started meeting in 2009. With the inclusion of South Africa in the group in last year’s Summit in Sanya, China, it has become stronger not only in numbers but also more representative in terms of its geographic spread. That the BRICS has become an important multilateral interest group is a significant indication of the changing structure of the global geopolitics and more importantly of the global economic scenario. Perhaps even Jim O’Neill would not have imagined the significance this group has assumed when he coined the term BRIC in a research paper in 2001. O’Neill was talking of BRIC as the thing of the future. However, the US sub-prime crisis and the bankruptcy of the major European banks have lent it an altogether different characteristic.

The BRICS economies are largest developing at present and thus clearly being the drivers of the world economy. Also when combined, they are projected to become the biggest economic grouping eclipsing all others. In addition, BRICS has a huge geographic spread with its member countries being some of the largest and having more that 40 percent of the world’s population.

However, there is also an international imperative that gives an impetus to the group. BRICS member countries feel that there is a need to generally restructure the international order in order to make it more just and more in tune with the present reality of geopolitical power of which the BRICS members have a large share. They tend to feel that the international order does not reflect this reality since they were not part of making this order. This necessity of perceived need for change is reflected nowhere better than in the UN Security Council (UNSC) in its present form; India, South Africa and Brazil have clearly expressed their desire to become its permanent members.

While the annual BRICS Summit themselves have been useful for the coming together of the Heads of States, other representatives from the BRICS member countries meet regularly to discuss issues of common concern. BRICS foreign affairs ministers’ meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly is a common feature. Besides this, BRICS countries have held regular dialogues with the view of expanding cooperation and sharing knowledge in areas of national security, finance, agriculture, health, trade and education. In addition other sub ministerial level meetings have been held in the areas of science and technology, competition commissions, business, national development banks, statistics, urban planning and so on. Given their roughly similar state of economic development, interaction with each other would help them avoid duplication of investments, learning of best practices and learning from each other’s mistakes. This is the domestic imperative for the sustenance and success of BRICS initiative.

Since the last summit at Sanya, China, BRICS summits have specific theme statements. While in Sanya “Broad Vision and Shared Prosperity” was the theme; the theme for the upcoming summit is “BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity”. Even with just two theme statements, one can already notice that the scope as well as ambitions of BRICS are expanding and with the point of view that the BRICS strives for establishing a more balanced and inclusive world order, this can only be good for the member countries and for other countries with similar points of view. Second, the BRICS Academic Forum, comprising experts and researchers from member countries, that was held in New Delhi on 4, 5 and 6th of March 2012 has come up with suggestions for the BRICS leaders’ summit. Its first agenda was to safeguard BRICS countries from a crisis like the one of the Eurozone. Towards this end, it advised taking a systematic approach and creating adequate frameworks and timely response to such shocks. It recommended creating a BRICS level financial institution that could help in development activities. It also advised in creating norms that help global development, particularly in least developed regions of the world. It also advised the Summit on creating cooperation on narcotics, drug and human trafficking. So it can be hoped that the BRICS leaders’ summit takes these recommendations forward and convert it into a time bound agenda. Hosting of BRICS provides India with a good opportunity for expanding its national interest, to make an impact on the international geopolitical and economic agenda.



Research Assistant, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
Friday, October 16, 2015 - 13:30
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