A Decade of BRICS

A Decade of BRICS: Indian Perspectives for the Future

Dated Published: May 2017

The formation of BRICS was an unprecedented and unlikely event in history. Originally conceived as a handy acronym describing the emerging economies of the world, the economic term came into being as a political entity in 2006, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The foreign ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, and China met during the conference and agreed to bring their respective heads of state together for annual summits to discuss shared political and economic interests. The inaugural summit meeting of the grouping, held in Yekaterinburg on June 16, 2009 was characterised by productive dialogue and a strengthening of relations. Subsequent meetings inspired a note-worthy addition to the coalition in 2011, as South Africa was invited to join, bringing the BRICS grouping to its full standing.

Observers of the geo-political world order have long espoused the refrain that BRICS is characterised by three I’s – Ideology, Issues, and Institutions. Yet, the group’s inception did not necessarily come about as result of common ideology – each nation had varying motivations dictating their decision to enter into the grouping. Russia, rising from the ashes of the Soviet Union, viewed the possible alliance as a mechanism to bring change to the global governance architecture dominated by the US and its allies. China deemed the formation of the coalition a key measure in furthering its economic and political ambitions. Brazil saw BRICS as a vehicle through which it could transform itself from a regional power to a global power. South Africa, moving on from the ignominy associated with apartheid, needed the grouping to legitimise its standing in the world as the tallest leader in Africa. India saw BRICS as a ladder that would allow it to make the jump from the geo-economic assembly line to the high table of global management.

Despite the divergent rationales behind each member’s motivation for joining the alliance, there remained some commonalities. The embedded power structures within the Western hemisphere were a key driver of aggregation for BRICS. Each member of the coalition believed that the existing global governance institutions did not allow them the influence due to them. Yet, none of the countries were capable of asking for significant change by themselves. They came to the realisation they needed an entente that would force a more inclusive governance architecture. These were the foundational drivers that led to the creation of this group. Moreover, even as these five countries came together, there were two ideals around which BRICS would organise their cooperation. First, each nation’s sovereignty would be paramount within the power structures of the world. Second, each state would seek greater democracy in the international decisionmaking process, regardless of domestic regimes.


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