Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair the annual summit of the five-nation grouping, BRICS, tomorrow (Thursday, 9 September) in the virtual format.
The meeting will be attended by Russian president Vladimir Putin, Chinese president Xi Jinping, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
It is expected that the situation in Afghanistan will be widely discussed during the meet. In addition to this, the leaders will also exchange views on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other current global and regional issues.
As the annual summit of the five-nation grouping draws near, here's all we know of this collective and the role it plays.
What is BRICS?
BRICS is the acronym for the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
It is a collective of the five of the largest developing countries of the world, representing 42 percent of the global population, 23 percent of the global GDP and 16 percent of the global trade. The five countries also cover an area of over 39,000,000 square kilometres, which is approximately 27 percent of the world's land surface.
On 30 November 2001, Jim O’Neill, a British economist who was then chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, coined the term ‘BRIC’ to describe the four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
The BRIC grouping's first formal summit was held in Yekaterinburg in June 2009 with Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Dmitry Medvedev, Manmohan Singh, and Hu Jintao, the respective leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, all attending. The summit's focus was on improving the global economic situation and reforming financial institutions and discussed how the four countries could better co-operate in the future.
In 2010, South Africa began efforts to join the BRIC grouping, and the process for its formal admission began in August, which culminated with its entry as a member nation in December of the same year.
In 2014, a new institution was created under the BRICS umbrella: the New Development Bank (NDB), intended as a rival for the US and Europe-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.
NDB has a subscribed capital of $50 billion, of which $10 billion is paid capital. It has become one of the largest multilateral development banks worldwide.
Role of BRICS
BRICS countries say they strive for "fairer international governance" in a multilateral system which they perceive as dominated by the Euro-American West.
"Since the beginning of their dialogue, in 2006, these countries have sought to establish fairer international governance, one that would be more suitable to their national interests," the group said on its website.
As Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov detailed: "BRICS is becoming a magnet for many emerging economies. They are looking at us because the group protects values of multilateralism, supports a transparent, non-discriminatory, open, free and inclusive international trade, and rejects unilateral economic restrictions and protectionist measures in developing international economic ties."
In 2019, V Muraleedharan, the minister of state in the MEA, in a question in the Rajya Sabha said: "BRICS countries have been the main engines of global economic growth over the years. At the same time, BRICS has emerged as a major factor in a peaceful, prosperous and multi polar world.
"BRICS Leaders discuss various issues of global importance including global financial and security situation, countering terrorism, climate change, sustainable development, reform of the multilateral system, reform of WTO and institutions of international governance, ways to promote Intra-BRICS cooperation including in science & technology, trade, health, information and communication technology, people-to-people exchanges."
BRICS has also shown that developing countries need not go through the West to understand the world. BRICS has proven that there is a huge world outside the West which has a far-reaching significance.
India and BRICS
From the Indian perspective, BRICS has emerged as the voice of developing countries or the global south. As these countries face an aggressive club of developed countries, raising challenges on issues from World Trade Organisation to climate change, New Delhi believes BRICS has to protect the rights of the developing countries.
Moreover, BRICS platform provides an opportunity for India to balance Russia-China axis. It also provides a platform for India to galvanize its efforts against terrorism and has worked within the grouping to take a strong stand against terrorism and bring about focused consultations on specific aspects relating to terrorism.
Afghanistan on BRICS' agenda
The Afghanistan situation and apprehensions about terror infrastructure in the Afghan territory will top the agenda of the BRICS Summit on 9 September.
The forthcoming summit comes at a time when China and Russia have already established contact with the Taliban dispensation. They are currently engaging the Taliban and they have also kept their missions in Kabul open at a time when most nations have pulled their diplomats out of Afghanistan because of security concerns.
As Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin noted that the BRICS countries already had "communication and coordination" on the Afghan issue at the meeting of their National Security Advisors, held on 24 August, where they adopted an action plan to boost practical cooperation in combating terrorism and terror financing, in the backdrop of mounting concerns over the possibility of various terror groups stepping up activities from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The grouping is expected to discuss the matter of recognition of the new Taliban caretaker government in Afghanistan and channelising development aid under BRICS Development Bank, also called the New Development Bank.
As Russia and China have shown an inclination towards the Taliban, they are expected to insist that the BRICS Bank extend aid to the war-torn country, the economy of which lies in tatters.
However, a source said that India, Brazil and South Africa may not agree to this, adding that these countries would want the BRICS Bank to extend support to developmental projects in other countries.
With inputs from agencies