Expansion of BRICS and what it means - GulfToday

Expansion of BRICS and what it means


Photo has been used for illustrative purpose.

The Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) grouping is a complex formation in geographical and ideological terms. It spans four continents – Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America – and spans democracy and communist polities. Formed in 2009, the group has managed to survive despite the tensions between China and India, and it is now poised to expand. Iran and Argentina want to join the group. Pakistan too is apparently keen to be part of it, though Islamabad has complained that India is posing an obstacle.

Whatever the problems, it seems to have gained importance in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war and Europe and the United States are keen to isolate Russia, and Moscow is looking to be part of a viable group. Right now, BRICS is the most visible geo-political and geo-economic formation. There is of course the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which was initially started by China in 2001, and included Russia and the Central Asian states like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan along with India and Pakistan. But the SCO has been created with security issues in mind. It does not involve economic development and cooperation.

BRICS is seen as a counter to G-7 countries, which are rich and developed, and it is also known as advanced market economies while the BRICS countries the emerging market economies. It appeared that the G-7 leaders seemed keen to wean India away from China and Russia and seem to be planning to integrate India into the Western democratic, market economies. China and India are supporting Russia on the issue of sanctions against Moscow. The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union (EU), Japan and Australia had been trying hard to get India to join the Western bloc and follow the economic sanctions. India has refused to toe the Western line because India-Russia economic and strategic relations have been close for more than half century. It looks like China and Russia would want more countries to join the BRICS and expand its footprint, and to use it as a rival to the Western bloc. Iran appears to be a natural candidate for BRICS because Iran too is in a confrontation mode with the West.

Whether BRICS can provide an economic and political, if not strategical, alternative to the Nato-EU-G-7 formation will remain a moot question. Countries like China, India, South Africa, Brazil with their substantive populations provide huge markets and they could form a vibrant economic formation. And if Iran and Argentina are admitted, then it could open up for other countries in West Asia and Africa and South America as well, and an expanded BRICS could become something like the ASEAN, the countries that made things happen through market economies.

The Russia-Ukraine war has shown that both the US and the EU have limited economic clout and they are no in a position to dictate terms to the rest of the world. There is a political and economic vacuum and Asian, African and South American countries can come together and the make themselves count in the world affairs.

Of course, this would mean India and China, India and Pakistan will have to put aside their mutual rivalries and work for the common good. But it is doubtful. Both India and Pakistan are only too happy to be part of the Western bloc. And it is this vacillation that weakens Asian unity. One of the aims of decolonization that took place in large parts of the world raised hopes that the newly independent countries would come together and provide an alternative to the destructive power politics of Europe. Unfortunately, this has not happened.

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