BRIC bats for security

While the nuclear summit in Washington last week expressed the will of the world to ensure the security of people and nations from threats posed by terrorists, the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) summits that followed in Brasilia were an affirmation of the role of rising powers in ensuring the world’s financial and political security. The two groupings are different. IBSA has a political character as all three members are democracies. BRIC is more economic; it represents about one-fifth of the world’s GDP and 40 per cent of its population. It has emerged as a strong group championing its own rights and those of other developing countries. The economic decline of the rich countries has given it greater clout.

This assertiveness was reflected in the deadline of a few months set by the BRIC meet to reform the IMF and the World Bank through voting power and quota rule changes, and to give greater legitimacy and representativeness to these institutions. The G-20 summit last year in the US had made promises in this regard but the easing of the world financial crisis has made the developed world go slow on them. The Brasilia meet also saw the group reaffirming its common positions on climate change, energy, trade, terrorism, agriculture and UN reforms. It was not that there were no  differences. These also came to the fore when Russia and China did not openly support the claims of India and Brazil for permanent seats in the UN Security Council, but only called for a greater role for them in the world body.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the BRIC position clear when he said that it wants “to play a role in shaping the pace and direction of global economic growth.” This assertiveness has come from better realisation of power and a sense of common purpose. On political issues also both the forums have tried to co-ordinate their views. The BRIC joint statement was silent on the US demand for more sanctions against Iran, but the IBSA opposed them. The Chinese and Russian positions, opposing sanctions, are well-known, and it has done well to withstand US pressure to back its aggressive posture against Iran. With G-20 becoming a more representative and influential forum in place of G-7, BRIC and IBSA, whose members are key members of G-20, can play a crucial role is shaping its policies and decisions.

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