Economic Times



Economic Times
CCI NG 3.5
Product: ETDelhiBS
PubDate: 31-08-2016 Zone: DelhiCapital
Edition: 1 Page: ETDCST3
User: sachin.kapoor
Time: 08-30-2016
22:16 Color: C
pg 19
Indian Presidency of BRICS
encourages institutional ingenuity
One may hope that this Summit would succeed in getting BRICS economies move
forward along with the fellow developing countries
Sachin Chaturvedi
ith more than hundred
events lined up for the
year, India is all set to
host the 8th BRICS Summit
scheduled to take place on
October 15 and 16 in Goa. As
suggested by the Prime Minister,
almost all the events are out of
Delhi and have engaged almost
22 states in 95 events which are
spread across the current
calendar year.
With BRICS emerging as a
platform for alternative thinking,
the theme India has chosen for its
BRICS presidency is quite
appropriate - building responsive,
inclusive and collective solutions.
As a part of this strategy, India has
pressed for institutional building
for BRICS to move forward
effectively. It has proposed a fourpronged approach, for institution
building to further deepen,
sustain and institutionalise BRICS
cooperation. This includes
implementation of the decisions
from previous summits;
integrating the existing
cooperation mechanisms;
innovation, i.e., new cooperation
mechanisms; and continuity, i.e.,
continuation of mutually-agreed
existing BRICS cooperation
In order to generate the public
opinion about BRICS and
strengthen cooperation in policy
making, India is hosting key
consultations like: BRICS
Parliamentary Forum, BRICS
Economic Forum; BRICS
Academic Forum; BRICS Civil
Forum; among several others.
BRICS Wellness Forum is one of
the new additions to this process.
With twin objectives of
recognising the rich heritage of
several systems of traditional
medicines and their popular use it
proposes a new BRICS Wellness
Index, as an alternative to GDP
measurement. With depleting
biodiversity base, expanding
inequalities, this index would
guide the BRICS and fellow
developing countries quite well as
they move forward for
implementation of SDGs.
Sustainable agricultural
development and poverty
alleviation through strategic
cooperation in agricultural
sustainable energy and green
industrialisation; new knowledge
and sources of competitiveness in
BRICS; structural bottlenecks to
competitiveness; regional value
chains for greater integration
among BRICS; resource needs for
industrial policy; development
finance for crisis financing;
collaboration on trade finance
policies; regional pooling of
resources; green finance; lessons
for the global financial
architecture; role of BRICS in
global norm setting for
responsible business and finance;
and monetary and
macroeconomic framework for
New incentives and norms need to be developed and
implemented to ensure that the growth process is
thoroughly sustainable. Increasingly, business practices in
the BRICS have led to responsive and collective solutions
and the process needs to be strengthened
research, education and
technology dissemination is
another proposed new initiatives.
The proposal is to establish a
BRICS Agricultural Research
Similarly, another new addition
is BRICS Economic Forum (BEF),
which focuses sustainable growth
paradigm; innovation and
competitiveness; financial
development for investment and
crisis management; and global
norm setting and responsible
business and finance. The
important points that the BEF
needs to address under these
broad headings are:
development challenges in BRICS
and road to equity; sustainability
challenges in BRICS and areas of
cooperation; incentivising
People to people contacts have
received increasing attention at
the BRICS. The first BRICS
Parliamentary Forum was
organised under Russian
presidency in Moscow. It aimed at
inter-parliamentary dialogue to
develop multifaceted cooperation
within the BRICS in political,
economic, legal, humanitarian
and other areas, and actively
promote common interests of the
BRICS in the international arena.
India hosted the BRICS Women
Parliamentarians Forum at Jaipur
earlier this month on the theme
of 'Women Parliamentarians:
Enablers for Achieving SDGs',
which gave a call for working
together in the field of economic
growth, social inclusion,
environmental protection and
expeditious implementation of
SDGs. Following earlier instances
of encouraging wider outreach
promoted through inviting
neighbouring countries, India has
invited BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal
Initiative for Multi-Sectoral
Technical and Economic
Cooperation) comprising of
Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka,
Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal as
special invitees to the Summit.
This practice was introduced at
the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban,
when South Africa invited almost
all the AU members.
One may hope that this
Summit would succeed in getting
BRICS economies move forward
along with the fellow developing
countries. The BRICS platform
offers unique opportunities in this
regard given similarity of growth
trajectories and the nature of
developmental challenges. New
incentives and norms need to be
developed and implemented to
ensure that the growth process is
thoroughly sustainable.
Increasingly, business practices in
the BRICS have led to responsive
and collective solutions and the
process needs to be
strengthened. Encouraging
sustainable business practices like
energy efficiency, use of
renewable energy, waste
management and innovations
would bring about visible
changes. Financing and
investment promotion
benchmarks should solely be set
on such criteria.
—The writer is
Director General, RIS
(Views are personal)
Samir Saran and Abhijnan Rej
s New Delhi gets ready to
host the 8th BRICS
Summit in Goa in October,
both the sceptics and believers
are tentative in their support or
criticism of the BRICS project.
Commentators are also unable
to comprehend or explain the
nature of the grouping and the
regimes it seeks to promote. In
order to understand the meansends logic of BRICS, we must
situate it within the longer arc
of contemporary history while
seeking a better explication of
the evolving relationship
between liberalism,
multilateralism and multipolarity.
This is crucial if we are to
make sense of this unlikely
grouping and its role in a world
that now resembles 19th
century Europe, post the
Congress of Vienna in 1815. The
order that emerged then was
starkly driven by national
interests of a constellation of
powers, and arranged according
to balance-of-power principles.
As such, it was one of the
earliest historical examples of
how great powers could
"cooperate under anarchy", to
riff a term from late 20th
century institutionalist literature.
What we are witnessing now is
a similar reassertion by states
and the return to balance-ofpower politics at a time when
multi-polarity and
multilateralism are in an uneasy
Without doubt this European
analogy is imperfect as the
causes for the re-emergence of
'sovereign imperative' in the
21st century, under
contemporary conditions of
interdependence, are unlike any
in the 19th century. They have
more to do with the excesses of
the unipolar moment that
began with the fall of the Berlin
Wall in 1989 and ended with
the global financial crisis almost
a decade ago. What transpired
then is crucial to understanding
the current political moment as
well as the beginnings and
relevance of the BRICS.
The 'western' engagement in
the Middle East of this period
tells part of the story. The first
Gulf War of 1991 saw the US
intervene to secure its energy
interests by leveraging the
UNSC. By the second Gulf War
in 2003, the US saw the UNSC
as an impediment to its
programme to remake the
Middle East. Thereafter,
American, French and British
interventions in Libya, Syria and
elsewhere, institutionalised
subversion of the UN led
multilateral order under the
garb of a 'Responsibility to
Protect' agenda. The drivers of
the financial crisis and the
response to the crisis
established the limits of the
liberal economic order as well.
BRICS, beyond an investment
instrument is a child of this era,
when liberal democracies
subverted multilateralism and
the economic order was
reduced to serving interests of a
few. It was indeed a moment
ripe for sovereign reassertion. It
should be no surprise then that
BRICS puts a premium on
Westphalian sovereignty as an
organising principle for the
international order, and
therefore, seeks new norms that
would make that order more
representative. Put differently,
the regime-complex around
BRICS is structured around two
principles: that of 'sovereign
preponderance' and of a
'democratic equity'.
The principle of sovereign
preponderance holds that the
state is paramount,
independent and inviolable,
and inter-state cooperation is
possible where trade-off
between autonomy and
cooperation result in greater
'state' agency. Indeed it is this
principle that allows China and
Russia to come together in a
forum with three democracies.
For each of them, the ideology
of global capitalism is not an
end in itself, but only a means
to meet developmental
objectives of the state. Their
objections to interventions in
regions that are outside their
own core interests
(neighbourhood) must also be
seen in this light.
By promoting norms around
democratic equity in the
international architecture, BRICS
seeks to find space in structures
and institutions that are
increasingly seen as handmaidens of Atlantic powers. And
here it differs from the
democratic and equitable order
that was sought to be promoted
by the Non-Aligned Movement
or the G77. Instead, this current
impulse stems from varying
degrees of disaffection of each
BRICS member with the present
political oligopoly in the global
marketplace of norms affecting
each of the BRICS' pursuit of
their national interests.
BRICS strives to restore
balance-of-power in the agendasetting space. And as it attempts
to do this, it is indeed ironic that
the task of democratisation of
the international system has
become a central endeavour of
a group that has two large
authoritarian countries as
—Samir Saran is Vice
President and Abhijnan Rej is
a Fellow at the Observer
Research Foundation
(Views are personal)