Belarus’s application to join the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) grouping in the midst of New Delhi’s resistance to the group’s expansion and Pakistan’s accusation that India is preventing its participation in a BRICS-related meeting has put the spotlight on New Delhi’s role, which is viewed as having a Western ’tilt.’
India and the opposing factions view each other, so to speak, as a “PRIC” in their respective divergent foreign interests.
According to a report by RIA Novosti, Belarus’s May application was “absolutely logical in the context of… expanding cooperation in multilateral formats with traditional partners and friendly states.”
Meanwhile, at the end of June, Pakistan accused India of attempting to isolate it internationally by preventing its participation in a forthcoming BRICS summit side event. Due to its “tilt” toward the West, Islamabad and other nations believe that New Delhi is not fully invested in advancing the interests of developing nations.
India differs from the G7 (United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada) only on the sanctions against Russia and the conflict in Ukraine, where it vehemently defends its traditional relationship with Moscow.
Nonetheless, observers note that the developing and underdeveloped world views India as not fully committed to advancing an alternative global eco-political order, as it continues to oppose reconciliation with Beijing and Islamabad. This is advantageous for the United States, which has complex and contentious relationships with these nations and is engaged in an intense strategic rivalry with the former.
Once considered a nebulous association of disparate emerging economies, BRICS now represents 43 percent of the world’s population, 26 percent of its land area, and about 30 percent of the global economy in an effort to promote peace, security, development, and cooperation.
At the BRICS summit in Johannesburg next month, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bangladesh, and Iran will vie for membership in the bloc.
Developing The BRICS Group
According to a report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), China intended to begin work on the admission of new members. Last month, however, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stated that the process was still “in progress.”
Jaishankar cited the need to deliberate on admissions standards, criteria, and procedures. While the report makes clear that India is not the only country opposed to the bloc’s expansion, India is particularly “wary” of the plan. The announcement followed the start of a three-day meeting involving senior officials earlier this month, at which the “expansion proposal (was) expected to be on the agenda.”
Anu Anwar, a fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, was quoted by SCMP as saying that India’s recent tilt towards the West indicated that it was a “outlier” in BRICS, which “makes sense” for other members to want to expand the bloc.
In recent years, Delhi has strengthened defense and technological cooperation with the United States, Japan, Australia, and the European Union, as well as played an active role in the Quad security grouping, primarily through the production of vaccines for the Indo-Pacific region.
Why Should We Care About BRICS?
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar or MEA officials have not articulated how they believe the BRICS membership requirements should be formulated.
However, according to an article in Modern Diplomacy, the debate centers on a country’s economic contribution to the region, its size, its cultural influence, and how well it represents the region. In addition, a balance must be pursued between representing the Global South continents of Asia, Africa, and South America in equal proportions.
The surge in interest in the BRICS is part of a larger paradigm shift from the United States and the West to the East, exemplified by China’s rise. Affected by the war in Ukraine, where developing and under-developed nations remained ostensibly neutral towards Moscow and did not condemn its military operation, the primary motivation for joining BRICS was economic, not diplomatic or military isolation of the West.
The possibility of the United States weaponizing the dollar through sanctions and repaying foreign debt, which has become more expensive due to the dollar’s appreciation as a result of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes, has prompted countries to explore alternative currencies for trade settlement and international credit.
The heavy multi-billion dollar high-interest loans offered by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); the existence of the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB) that granted loans totaling $33 billion to more than 96 projects within the five founding countries; and avoiding the stringent conditions (caps on public spending, austerity measures, etc.) imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in availing bailout packages, as was evident from the crises in Sri Lanka and
The bloc’s initiative to introduce a new currency backed by gold was a step in this direction. While the South African ambassador to the BRICS, Anil Sooklal, clarified that the currency issue is not on the impending summit’s agenda, experts expressed surprise at India’s statement that it does not favor a BRICS currency.
India barred us from attending a BRICS side event.
On June 26, Pakistan accused India of conducting another ‘PRIC’ operation. It stated that “one member” of the BRICS bloc prevented its participation in a virtual meeting conducted alongside the bloc’s recent summit, which was hosted by China.
This occurred during a high-level dialogue on global development held as a side event to the 14th BRICS summit.
While several developing/emerging economies were invited to the virtual meeting, Pakistan claimed that “one member” of the BRICS bloc prevented its participation.
It was stated that China is the host nation engaging with Pakistan prior to BRICS meetings, where decisions are made after consultations with all BRICS members, including the invitation of non-members.