The eighth BRICS summit in Goa is an occasion to consolidate past institutional progress and chart a sustained path of economic revival for 43% of the world’s population.
PM Narendra Modi has led the charge for an economic rebound by launching the first ever BRICS Trade Fair in New Delhi to link corporations, strike deals and showcase outstanding industrial innovations to inspire entrepreneurs.
BRICS leaders assembled in Goa are cognizant of this radical sentiment from below which wants nothing less than a revamped world order.
Intra-BRICS trade, which has leapfrogged year-on-year, is being boosted through agreements on understanding and reducing non-tariff barriers (NTBs) among member states and linking small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that need international partners but lack platforms to meet.
Even as BRICS heads of government will note with satisfaction in Goa that their signature New Development Bank (NDB), presided by KV Kamath, has taken off with the first set of loans worth $811 million to ecologically friendly infrastructure projects, they are not resting on past laurels.
The ambitious idea of setting up a new BRICS credit rating agency to challenge the triopoly of the big three western agencies, which have been discredited for conflicts of interest and in-built bias against rising powers, is being fast-tracked.
Our own ratings mechanism will grant us autonomy from speculative attacks of Wall Street and other rapacious global financial entities that undermine economic stability in BRICS.
Another novelty in this year’s BRICS summit is India conjoining it with BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) to explore connectivity and business opportunities with South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
The more BRICS reaches out with the rest of the developing world, the stronger will its foundations be amid global economic shakiness. On the political front, Modi is leveraging his leadership of this year’s summit to press for a united stance against terrorism.
BRICS governments have already denounced recent terrorist attacks in India, but China’s commitment to a commonly shared BRICS vision and action in this crucial sphere is questionable due to its strategic alliance with Pakistan.
If each BRICS nation narrowly defines its specific threats and stays ambivalent about threats faced by other member states, there is no multilateral push worth its salt.
BRICS must innovate not just in the economic sphere but also in security. The meeting of national security advisers of BRICS is a welcome step with immense potential. They must probe novel initiatives such as forming a combined squad of elite BRICS anti-terrorism special operations troops that can be rapidly deployed in crises. BRICS foreign ministers have emphasised the value of resolving armed conflicts in Africa in a process “led by Africa” and recognised Russia’s centrality in ending the war in Syria.
Such pronouncements dovetail with the sentiment expressed at the BRICS Youth Summit in Guwahati in July that collective action which heeds the expectations and talents of our people “can be used to shift power from the West to the BRICS”.
BRICS leaders assembled in Goa are cognizant of this radical sentiment from below which wants nothing less than a revamped world order. It is a heavy mantle to carry, especially when the economic success of BRICS has been dented. But, together, we can rise again.
(The writer is the author of ‘Modi Doctrine: The Foreign Policy of India’s Prime Minister)