Challenges Ahead for BRICS

Challenges Ahead for BRICS
PM of India is in Xiamen, China for 2017 9th BRICS annual summit. PM said that he looks forward toproductive discussions and positive outcomes with leaders of the BRICS group to support the agenda forstronger partnership among BRICS members. This will be first time PM of India and President of China will meet post the resolution of Doklam standoff.
The summit happens at multiple levels
1.      what actually happens at BRICS
2.      what is happening bilaterally between countries: India-Russia, Russia-china etc.
3.      what is happening in other groupings- IBSA, RIC etc.
Once there are couple of countries together, agreeing to particular agenda is a difficult task. At the same time, every countries’ policy makers will pick up what it suits them such as topics like climate change, global governance, global economic governance, disaster management, terrorism etc. There is broad agreement on most of it.  Hence, these are summits are platform to deliver speeches about the concerns shared by group.
Major Challenges ahead
BRICS leader in China strongly condemned and named Pakistan based terror groups like LeT, JeM and Haqqani network in a joint declaration for first time. It is a diplomatic victory for India when these terror groups are named but it should be also seen that Tehrik-e-taliban in Pakistan has been named as well as Uighur groups that trouble china. So when such documents are negotiated, the concerns of different sides are taken up. It is clear that Chinese have given cover to Pakistan by including TTP because for Pakistan, TTP is the main terrorist group.
At this summit, terrorism has been dealt with more comprehensively and substantively. The indication is that BRICS leaders want international community to combat terrorism in a full-fledged manner to break financing, radicalization and also eliminating terrorist basis in different countries.
How it is going to be operationalized in months and years to come has to be seen. This is an improvement from the past.
Border dispute between India and China
Old border mechanisms are not working which results into tension remaining all along the border. So border mechanisms have to be made more robust and moving forward.
If India and china have decided to mutually withdraw from Doklam then it doesn’t mean that the basic interest of India or china or any other country participating in BRICS will change. The BRICS process will not impact the border issue of India and china in any meaningful way.
Between two countries there are other issues such as trade and commerce, security cooperation too which needs to be addressed.
At least three of the member countries – Brazil, Russia and South Africa – are facing serious economic and political challenges.
Also, there is a rise in protectionist approach of the West which will direct BRICS to reach out to other countries – not to increase the number of members but to explore the possibilities of engagement that are mutually beneficial.
How BRICS matters for India?
India’s focus cannot only be towards Western Europe and USA though it is required in security and technological area. But this doesn’t mean that India has to ignore other areas. The countries participating in BRICS are significant in their own right. The intense activities that the BRICS countries have shown amongst themselves is in itself is good for all. The west also sees BRICS as an important forum as it is one grouping which can come out with some kind of different normative which was seen in form of NDB. Though it is a small bank, the norms are different.
India has good relations with all major powers since last 3-4 years. Russia, US, China. India has more than 2 dozen strategic partners. So these bilateral relationships are important. Apart from bilateral relationships, one of the major foreign policy challenges to India is how to deal with china. In next 10-15 years, there are going to be certain kind of tensions, conflicts with china but at the same time, there will be many economic opportunities happening.
Way forward
The takeaways of the summit will be known after it concludes. However, on the most important topic for India-terrorism, it cannot be expected that just naming of terrorist organization will translate into operationalizing into stopping financing, punitive responses to terror strike. Though the heat seems to be on Pakistan, not much is expected to change on ground. The real deal will be known about china’s attitude when Masood azhar comes up before UNSC, and whether the Chinese will lift their technical hold to designate him as an international terrorist. Hence, there is a lot more to be done on ground that operationalizes or implements many of references made in this declaration, which is normally not carried out with sincerity.


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