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Daily Current Affairs 25.08.2021 (Climate change, a catalyst for Arctic cooperation, Modi, Putin discuss crisis in Afghanistan)

Daily Current Affairs 25.08.2021 (Climate change, a catalyst for Arctic cooperation, Modi, Putin discuss crisis in Afghanistan)

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1.Climate change, a catalyst for Arctic cooperation

Environmental challenges should be a priority for all players in the region, outweighing military and economic issues

It is tempting to view the current geopolitics of the Arctic through the lenses of the ‘great power competition’ and inevitable conflict of interests. Interestingly, the current geopolitical scenario is, to a certain extent, mirrored in the Arctic region as well. This is mainly about the growing tensions between North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and Russia.

There are eight countries that have direct access to the Arctic resources, i.e., Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States. In 2013, six Observers joined the Council, including China, Japan, India, Italy, South Korea, and Singapore, bringing their total number to 13.

Security concerns

By the end of the Cold War, the geopolitical tensions and security concerns in the Arctic were almost forgotten. In October 1987, during a visit to the Kola Peninsula, Mikhail Gorbachev, then Secretary-General of the Soviet Communist Party, acknowledged the end of the Cold War era and promoted a ‘zone of peace’ in the Arctic.

The perceived ‘harmony’ was broken in 2007, when the Russian explorers planted their flag on the seabed 4,200m (13,779ft) below the North Pole to articulate Moscow’s claims in the Arctic. This move was certainly viewed as provocative by other Arctic States, and the Canadian Foreign Minister, Peter MacKay, said “this is not the 15th century”, and “countries cannot just go around, plant their flags, and claim the territories”.

The regional tension increased after the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2014. Consequently, relations between the U.S. and Russia reached their lowest point again. The rhetoric of the bilateral mistrust was transferred ‘up to the North’ and created anxiety among other stakeholders in the Arctic.

After the events in Ukraine in 2014, Russia has been increasingly viewed as a ‘rule-breaker’, ‘revisionist power’ and an ‘untrustworthy player’. Besides, Russia’s intention to re-establish the military might of its Northern Fleet also creates the security concerns and features prominently in the Norwegian foreign policy. On the other hand, some Russian military experts believe that the Barents Sea can serve as the launching area for a western seaborne attack; therefore, the Russian Navy should ensure the readiness of its anti-submarine forces in the Arctic Ocean.

The eco-dimension

In the last decades, we have been confronted with the multiple ‘wake-up calls’ that are related to climate change; and these calls are getting louder. The summer of 2021 would be recorded in history as one of the most devastating seasons of our times, when ferocious floods and wildfires were destroying communities in many parts of the world. Due to the environmental transformations, natural catastrophes occur unexpectedly — on an unprecedented scale, and in unusual geographic locations. For example, the extreme heat in North America or wildfires in Russian Siberia (Yakutia), where the winter temperature can be below minus 40°. The Arctic region also bears the brunt of climate change. At the same time, it provides a platform for scientific research that can help to get to the bottom of natural calamities around the world.

Keeping in mind the existential threats, the environmental challenges should be an absolute priority for all players in the Arctic region. These considerations should outweigh military and economic issues and unite countries for the sake of eliminating the potential (and real) dangers attributed to climate change.

According to The World Climate and Security Report 2020; the first report of the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security, or the IMCCS), ‘the Arctic is warming nearly twice as fast as the rest of the planet with consecutive record-breaking warm years since 2014… The Arctic is likely to begin experiencing ice-free summers within the next decade, with summers likely to be completely free of sea ice by mid-century’.

There should be concerted efforts to minimise the adverse effects on the fragile Arctic ecosystem. A good example to be highlighted is the recent case of a Norwegian drilling project; it was taken to the European court by the group of environmentalists. Their main argument is that the negative impact of mining activities can spread beyond the continental shelf of Norway.

The geopolitical vs strategic

The environmental transformation and rapid ice melting have also opened up new opportunities in the region, which includes trans-Arctic shipping routes. These opportunities have inevitably attracted all stakeholders in the region, both the Arctic and non-Arctic states. China, for example, with its self-proclaimed status of a ‘near Arctic state’, has been actively engaged in various projects across the region.

The importance of the Arctic region for China mostly stems from its energy security issues and the need to diversify shipping lanes. Transport routes from China to Europe through the Arctic are not only much shorter but also free from the challenges associated with the Malacca Strait and South China Sea. In the latter case, China will continue facing a backlash from many Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, supported by U.S. forces.

Given the significance of the region, the Arctic will continue to draw increased attention. Apart from pursuing national interests, participating nations should also be concerned about the future developments in the region and their larger implications for humanity.

Hence, they should refrain from mutual provocations, excessive militarisation, and quid pro quo tactics. All the Arctic actors should have a long-term vision and strategic goals as compared to immediate short-term gains. Instead of creating a potential battleground that is reminiscent of the Cold War, the parties concerned should utilise their expertise and create the required synergy to achieve shared goals. Climate change and its dramatic consequences must be a catalyst for Arctic cooperation.

What is ASEAN?

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional organization which was established to promote political and social stability amid rising tensions among the Asia-Pacific’s post-colonial states.
  • The motto of ASEAN is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • 8th August is observed as ASEAN Day.
  • ASEAN Secretariat – Indonesia, Jakarta.

Member Nations

  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Brunei
  • Vietnam
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Cambodia

Genesis of ASEAN

  • 1967 – ASEAN was established with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by its founding fathers.
    • Founding Fathers of ASEAN are: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
  • 1990s – Membership doubled after the changing conditions in the region following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 and the Cold War in 1991.
    • Addition of Brunei (1984), Vietnam (1995), Laos and Myanmar (1997), and Cambodia (1999).
  • 1995 – Members signed a deal to create a nuclear-free zone in Southeast Asia.
  • 1997 – Adoption of ASEAN Vision 2020.
  • 2003 – Bali Concord II for the establishment of an ASEAN Community.
  • 2007 – Cebu Declaration, to accelerate the establishment of ASEAN Community by 2015.
  • 2008 – ASEAN Charter comes into force and becomes a legally binding agreement.
  • 2015 – Launch of ASEAN Community.
    • ASEAN Community is comprised of three pillars:
      • ASEAN Political-Security Community
      • ASEAN Economic Community
      • ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community

Objectives

  • To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations.
  • To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
  • To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields.
  • To collaborate more effectively for the greater utilisation of agriculture and industries, the expansion of their trade, the improvement of transportation and communications facilities and the raising of the living standards of peoples.
  • To promote Southeast Asian studies.
  • To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organisations.

The ASEAN fundamental principles, as contained in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) of 1976

  • Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations.
  • The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion.
  • Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another.
  • Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner.
  • Renunciation of the threat or use of force.
  • Effective cooperation among themselves.

Institution Mechanism

  • Chairmanship of ASEAN rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.
  • ASEAN Summit: The supreme policy making body of ASEAN. As the highest level of authority in ASEAN, the Summit sets the direction for ASEAN policies and objectives. Under the Charter, the Summit meets twice a year.
  • ASEAN Ministerial Councils: The Charter established four important new Ministerial bodies to support the Summit.
    • ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC)
    • ASEAN Political-Security Community Council
    • ASEAN Economic Community Council
    • ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council
  • Decision Making: The primary mode of decision-making in ASEAN is consultation and consensus.

However, the Charter enshrines the principle of ASEAN-X – This means that if all member states are in agreement, a formula for flexible participation may be used so that the members who are ready may go ahead while members who need more time for implementation may apply a flexible timeline.

ASEAN-led Forums

  • ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF): Launched in 1993, the twenty-seven-member multilateral grouping was developed to facilitate cooperation on political and security issues to contribute to regional confidence-building and preventive diplomacy.
  • ASEAN Plus Three: The consultative group initiated in 1997 brings together ASEAN’s ten members, China, Japan, and South Korea.
  • East Asia Summit (EAS): First held in 2005, the summit seeks to promote security and prosperity in the region and is usually attended by the heads of state from ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. ASEAN plays a central role as the agenda-setter.

Strengths & Opportunities

  • ASEAN commands far greater influence on Asia-Pacific trade, political, and security issues than its members could achieve individually.
  • Demographic dividend – It constitutes 3rd largest population in the world, of which more than half is below thirty years of age.
  • Economic:
    • 3rd largest market in the world – larger than EU and North American markets.
    • 6th largest economy in the world, 3rd in Asia.
    • Free-trade agreements (FTAs) with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
    • Fourth most popular investment destination globally.
    • ASEAN’s share of global exports has also risen, from only 2 percent in 1967 to 7 percent by 2016, indicating the rising importance of trade to ASEAN’s economic prospects.
    • The ASEAN Single Aviation Market and Open Skies policies have increased its transport and connectivity potential.
  • ASEAN has contributed to regional stability by building much-needed norms and fostering a neutral environment to address shared challenges.

Challenges

  • Regional imbalances in the economic and social status of its individual markets.
  • Gap between rich and poor ASEAN member states remains very large and they have a mixed record on income inequality.
    • While Singapore boasts the highest GDP per capita—nearly $53,000 (2016), Cambodia’s per capita GDP is the lowest at less than $1,300.
    • Many regional initiatives were not able to be incorporated into national plans, as the less developed countries faced resource constraints to implement the regional commitments.
  • The members’ political systems are equally mixed with democracies, communist, and authoritarian states.
  • While the South China Sea is the main issue exposing the organization’s rifts.
  • ASEAN has been divided over major issues of human rights. For example, crackdowns in Myanmar against the Rohingyas.
  • Inability to negotiate a unified approach with regards to China, particularly in response to its widespread maritime claims in the South China Sea.
  • The emphasis on consensus sometimes becomes the a chief drawback – difficult problems have been avoided rather than confronted.
  • There is no central mechanism to enforce compliance.
  • Inefficient dispute-settlement mechanism, whether it be in the economic or political spheres.

India and ASEAN

  • India’s relationship with ASEAN is a key pillar of her foreign policy and the foundation of Act East Policy.
  • India has a separate Mission to ASEAN and the EAS in Jakarta.
  • India and ASEAN already has 25 years of Dialogue Partnership, 15 years of Summit Level interaction and 5 years of Strategic Partnership with ASEAN.
  • Economic Cooperation:
    • ASEAN is India’s fourth largest trading partner.
    • India’s trade with ASEAN stands at approx. 10.6% of India’s overall trade.
    • India’s export to ASEAN stands at 11.28% of our total exports. The ASEAN-India Free Trade Area has been completed.
    • ASEAN India-Business Council (AIBC) was set up in 2003 to bring key private sector players from India and the ASEAN countries on a single platform.
  • Socio-Cultural Cooperation: Programmes to boost People-to-People Interaction with ASEAN, such as inviting ASEAN students to India, Special Training Course for ASEAN diplomats, Exchange of Parliamentarians, etc.
  • Funds: Financial assistance has been provided to ASEAN countries from the following Funds:
    • ASEAN-India Cooperation Fund
    • ASEAN-India S&T Development Fund
    • ASEAN-India Green Fund
  • Delhi Declaration: To identify Cooperation in the Maritime Domain as the key area of cooperation under the ASEAN-India strategic partnership.
  • Delhi Dialogue: Annual Track 1.5 event for discussing politico-security and economic issues between ASEAN and India.
  • ASEAN-India Centre (AIC): To undertake policy research, advocacy and networking activities with organizations and think-tanks in India and ASEAN.
  • Political Security Cooperation: India places ASEAN at the centre of its Indo-Pacific vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region.

2.A surfeit of sero surveys

While they are useful in detecting the prevalence of antibodies, frequent sero surveys are expensive and futile

A sero surveillance survey ascertains the prevalence of a past infectious disease in a population. In the case of COVID-19, it helps to detect whether antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 are present in a population. The antibodies are like evidence in a crime scene and the virus is like a criminal. But to prevent the criminal from repeating the crime, we need to conduct RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT). With this information, we can isolate the individual and prevent further infection and also manage complications of the infection if they arise.

Benefits of sero surveys

If anyone has had a severe case of COVID-19, can they walk around freely believing that they won’t get the infection again as they have developed adequate natural antibodies? No. They can still be asymptomatic carriers of the virus. They cannot be exempted from COVID-19-appropriate behaviour. And they must get vaccinated too. In other words, all sero positive individuals have to observe COVID-19-appropriate behaviour and get fully vaccinated. This means that sero surveys don’t personally benefit individuals.

For public health authorities, sero surveys are of varying use at different phases of the pandemic. Such surveys are widely used by the media and by epidemiologists to show under-reporting of cases and deaths due to COVID-19. Independent sero surveillance data can expose the level of data suppression.

After releasing the fourth sero survey results, the ICMR recommended acceleration of vaccination of the vulnerable population, especially yet-to-be-vaccinated health staff; tracking COVID-19 infection in SARI cases in hospitals; and identifying clusters of current cases and cases of clinical severity for genome sequencing which would help track mutations of the virus. But these are valid irrespective of the sero conversion levels.

The second use of sero surveys is to find out whether community transmission has taken place or not. The ICMR was right in refuting some accounts by the media in mid-2020 that community transmission had taken place without the system knowing about it. Many demanded RAT or RT-PCR tests on a large scale. That would have been a wrong public health action. The first sero prevalence survey in May-June 2020 showed that overall infection was 0.73%. The relevant public health actions to be taken then were rapid case detection, isolation and containment measures as vaccines were not ready then. In August 2020, the second survey showed that sero prevalence had increased to 7.1%. Even after the first wave, when evidence of rapid transmission was emerging, we needed an additional weapon to fight the virus apart from observing COVID-19-appropriate behaviour and that was vaccination.

The third use of sero surveys is to assess how far or close we are to herd immunity. Many virologists said that 60% of the population should be immune to COVID-19 for us to reach herd immunity. We were nowhere near a herd immunity level at that time. Though there were claims that parts of the urban poor population in Mumbai and Pune had 70% developing antibodies, the third survey found that after the first wave, only 21.4% Indians had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The degree of change was highest in rural areas at 19.1%. In non-slum urban areas, it was 26.2%, while in urban slums the prevalence had increased to 31.7%. The fourth survey showed that 67.6% of the population had developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 meeting the earlier prophesied threshold for herd immunity. Now, we have to change the goalpost to 80-90%. There are breakthrough infections everywhere. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has reported that over 81% have developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in Ahmedabad, but there continue to be cases.

Cost-benefit analysis

Under these circumstances, it is not rational for public health experts to advise governments to embark upon city-wise seroprevalence surveys to detect the presence of COVID-19 antibodies. Those surveys are no more useful than our COVID-19-appropriate behaviour and vaccinations to control the pandemic. For an academic documentation of the trend of the pandemic spread and penetration among communities, one national-level ICMR survey is good enough.

A survey of 5,000 people per city costs around ₹25 lakh. This is not a good investment for a country still grappling with the pandemic. If we do a cost-benefit analysis, frequent sero surveys are a poor use of staff time, technology and funds and divert attention from the core activities of screening, testing and other containment measures. The genome analysis of breakthrough cases in spite of vaccination is more beneficial for evidence-based policy changes.

3.Modi, Putin discuss crisis in Afghanistan

National Security Advisers of BRICS nations also met virtually to discuss developments in Kabul

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday discussed charting out a “coordinated” strategy in Afghanistan, while National Security Advisers (NSA) from the five BRICS countries met virtually to discuss developments there with a focus on combating terrorism.

Officials said the Russian President called Mr. Modi to discuss developments in Afghanistan, with the two leaders agreeing to set up a “permanent bilateral channel” on the issues arising from the Taliban takeover.

“Had a detailed and useful exchange of views with my friend President Putin on recent developments in Afghanistan,” Mr. Modi tweeted after the 45-minute conversation.

Among the particular areas of concern were ensuring regional security, countering radicalisation and spread of “terrorist ideology”, and the proliferation of drugs as a consequence of the developments, a Russian Embassy spokesperson said.

These were also issues that figured as the NSAs from India, Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa met virtually, one of the key meetings in the lead-up to next month’s BRICS leaders’ summit, which India is chairing.

NSA Ajit Doval hosted the virtual meeting. The Ministry of External Affairs said the meeting “reviewed the regional and global political and security scenario with particular reference to current developments in Afghanistan, Iran, West Asia and the Gulf, and emerging threats to national security, such as cybersecurity”.

The meeting also discussed counter-terrorism, and India raised “the issue of cross-border terrorism and activities of groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT] and Jaish-e-Mohammed [JeM], which enjoy State support and threaten peace and security,” it said.

The Ministry added that the representatives “adopted and recommended the BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan”.

On Afghanistan, there do remain differences within the grouping, with China and Russia broadly aligning their positions.

China and Russia, along with Pakistan, are among the few countries that continue to keep their embassies open in Afghanistan in contrast to India, which has evacuated all diplomatic personnel.

Both Russia and China continue to maintain their diplomatic presence in Kabul and have hosted Taliban delegations on a number of occasions, most recently by China on July 28. However, both are yet to offer recognition to the new regime.

How far India and Russia can indeed coordinate their strategies, as both leaders discussed on Tuesday, remains to be seen.

Both Indian and Russian officials said it was significant that Mr. Putin reached out to Mr. Modi directly, indicating the Russian interest in working with India bilaterally, and multilaterally at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and at other forums like BRICS, despite the differences between India and China on the Afghanistan issue, and on the role of Pakistan in facilitating the Taliban. China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the BRICS NSA’s meet was “an important platform for the five countries to strengthen political security cooperation”.

BRICS

  • BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • The BRICS Leaders’ Summit is convened annually.

Structure

  • BRICS does not exist in form of organization, but it is an annual summit between the supreme leaders of five nations.
  • The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
  • BRICS cooperation in the past decade has expanded to include an annual programme of over 100 sectoral meetings.

Salient Features

  • Together, BRICS accounts for about 40% of the world’s population and about 30% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), making it a critical economic engine.
  • It’s an emerging investment market and global power bloc.

Genesis

  • The acronym “BRICS” was initially formulated in 2001 by economist Jim O’Neill, of Goldman Sachs, in a report on growth prospects for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China – which together represented a significant share of the world’s production and population.
  • In 2006, the four countries initiated a regular informal diplomatic coordination, with annual meetings of Foreign Ministers at the margins of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
  • This successful interaction led to the decision that the dialogue was to be carried out at the level of Heads of State and Government in annual Summits.

Timeline

  • The first BRIC Summit took place in 2009 in the Russian Federation and focused on issues such as reform of the global financial architecture.
  • South Africa was invited to join BRIC in December 2010, after which the group adopted the acronym BRICS. South Africa subsequently attended the Third BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, in March 2011.

Objectives

  • The BRICS seeks to deepen, broaden and intensify cooperation within the grouping and among the individual countries for more sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial development.
  • BRICS takes into consideration each member’s growth, development and poverty objectives to ensure relations are built on the respective country’s economic strengths and to avoid competition where possible.
  • BRICS is emerging as a new and promising political-diplomatic entity with diverse objectives, far beyond the original objective of reforming global financial institutions.

Areas of Cooperation

1. Economic Cooperation

  • There are rapidly growing trade and investment flows between BRICS countries as well as economic cooperation activities across a range of sectors.
  • Agreements have been concluded in the areas of Economic and Trade Cooperation; Innovation Cooperation, Customs Cooperation; strategic cooperation between the BRICS Business Council , Contingent Reserve Agreement and the New Development Bank.
  • These agreements contribute to realisation of the shared objectives of deepening economic cooperation and fostering integrated trade and investment markets.

2. People-to-People exchange

  • BRICS members have recognised the need for strengthening People-to-People exchanges and to foster closer cooperation in the areas of culture, sport, education, film and youth.
  • People-to-People exchanges seek to forge new friendships; deepen relations and mutual understanding between BRICS peoples in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness, diversity and mutual learning.
  • Such People to people exchanges include the Young Diplomats Forum, Parliamentarian Forum, Trade Union Forum, Civil BRICS as well as the Media Forum.

3. Political and Security Cooperation

  • BRICS member political and security cooperation is aimed at achieving peace, security, development and cooperation for a more equitable and fair world.
  • BRICS provides opportunities for sharing policy advice and exchanges of best practices in terms of domestic and regional challenges as well as advancing the restructuring of the global political architecture so that it is more balanced, resting on the pillar of multilateralism.
  • BRICS is utilised as a driver for South Africa’s foreign policy priorities including the pursuit of the African Agenda and South-South Cooperation.

4. Cooperation Mechanism

Cooperation among members is achieved through:

  • Track I: Formal diplomatic engagement between the national governments.
  • Track II: Engagement through government-affiliated institutions, e.g. state-owned enterprises and business councils.
  • Track III: Civil society and People-to-People engagement.

Impacts of BRICS on global institutional reforms

  • The main reason for co-operation to start among the BRICs nation was the financial crises of 2008. The crises raised doubts over sustainability of the dollar-dominated monetary system.
  • The BRICs called for the “the reform of multilateral institutions in order that they reflect the structural changes in the world economy and the increasingly central role that emerging markets now play”.
  • BRICs managed to push for institutional reform which led to International Monetary Fund (IMF) quota reform in 2010. Thus the financial crises had momentarily reduced western legitimacy and briefly let the BRICs countries become “agenda setters” in multilateral institutions.

New Development Bank

  • NDB is headquartered in Shanghai.
  • At the Fourth BRICS Summit in New Delhi (2012) the possibility of setting up a new Development Bank was considered to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies, as well as in developing countries.
  • During the Sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza (2014) the leaders signed the Agreement establishing the New Development Bank (NDB).
  • Fortaleza Declaration stressed that the NDB will strengthen cooperation among BRICS and will supplement the efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global development thus contributing to sustainable and balanced growth.
  • NDB’s key areas of operation are clean energy, transport infrastructure, irrigation, sustainable urban development and economic cooperation among the member countries.
  • The NDB functions on a consultative mechanism among the BRICS members with all the member countries possessing equal rights.

Contingent Reserve Arrangement

  • Considering the increasing instances of global financial crisis, BRICS nations signed BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) in 2014 as part of Fortaleza Declaration at Sixth BRICS summit.
  • The BRICS CRA aims to provide short-term liquidity support to the members through currency swaps to help mitigating BOP crisis situation and further strengthen financial stability.
  • The initial total committed resources of the CRA shall be one hundred billion dollars of the United States of America (USD 100 billion).
  • It would also contribute to strengthening the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements (IMF).

Challenges

  • The marked dominance of big three Russia-China-India is challenge for the BRICS as it moves ahead. To become a true representative of large emerging markets across the world, BRICS must become pan-continental. Its membership must include more countries from other regions and continents.
  • The BRICS will need to expand its agenda for increasing its relevance in the global order. As of now, climate change and development finance, aimed at building infrastructure dominate agenda.
  • As BRICS moves forward foundational principles of BRICS i.e. respect for sovereign equality and pluralism in global governance are liable to be tested as the five member countries pursue their own national agendas.
  • The military standoff between India and China on the Doklam plateau, which has effectively brought to an end the naive notion that a comfortable political relationship is always possible amongst the BRICS members.
  • China’s efforts to co-opt nation states, which are integral to its Belt and Road Initiative, into a broader political arrangement has potential to cause conflict among BRICS members especially China and India.

Importance for India

  • India can benefit from collective strength of BRICS by way of consultation and cooperation on economic issues of mutual interests, as well as topical global issues, such as, international terrorism, climate change, food and energy security, reforms of global governance institutions, etc.
  • India remains engaged with the other BRICS countries on its NSG membership.
  • The NDB will help India to raise and avail resources for their infrastructure and sustainable development projects. The NDB has approved its first set of loans, which included a loan of US$ 250 million in respect of India for Multitranche Financing Facility for Renewable Energy Financing Scheme’.
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