BRICS Sustaining Growth

BRICS: Sustaining Growth Amidst Renaissance

Dated Published: November 2018

Changing world order

Many pockets in the world today are experiencing something that has not been seen for a long time. A sense of rising ‘populism’ is engulfing the key economies in the world, which mostly defy the natural economic world order that have so far largely been an outcome of globalization. While the US being the world’s largest democracy remains the cynosure which precipitously claims to be the victim of its own open trade policies that it has propounded since the end of the Second World War, the emerging economies particularly the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have not remained unscathed by this development.

While anti-globalization is one thing, a socio-economic renaissance akin to the worldwide pattern is becoming increasingly visible in BRICS economies as well.

It will not be out of place to say that ever since the Arab Spring, the world continues to witness sporadic incidents of discontentment. However, the magnitude of it today seems amplified and has spread to more economies across continents.

The latest in such a fray is Brazil. The largest economy in Latin America, which once showed promise has been embroiled in scandals, faltering economy, high unemployment, and has now recently elected Jair Bolsonaro as its President. He apparently has been one who is known to have radical thoughts with a right wing ideology. During the election campaign he was often been touted as the ‘Trump of the Tropics’ given his controlling working style. A fall in raw material prices and collapsing investor confidence has shaken the Brazilian economy in the last few years. While unemployment hovers around 12%, concerns over maintaining fiscal prudence remains. As the new president assumes power in January 2019, Brazilian businesses are at tenterhooks expecting some market-friendly reforms.

Putin in Russia remains a potent force ever since he came to power in 2000. Post-cold war era he has provided a sense of déjà vu and national pride by re-establishing Russia, bringing stability, and restoring Russia’s influence in global policy. Economically Russia has been facing sanctions from US since 2014, which are preventing it growing to its full potential. Indeed, GDP growth is expected to be around 1.5%-1.8% during 2018-20, but nevertheless Russia may be further impacted if there is a substantial decline in oil prices. Recently, the decision to rise the pension age to manage its fiscal XXX, has sparked nationwide protests. Unfortunately, though, as is a typical hallmark of any long serving authoritarian leader, Putin is often alleged to have throttled and not been lenient with the press.

In India, Prime Minister Modi was elected to power with a thumping majority four years back. He vowed to curb corruption, and in the process successfully introduced the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in 2016 to clean up the banking sector. His economic policies unlike in the US, have been pro-globalization. Another difference with the US and India is that irrespective of all the criticisms, Trump still continues to be rigid and strive to fulfill his electoral mandate however regressive it may appear to others In contrast, at the tail end of Modi’s tenure there are apprehensions in some quarters with regard to his economic and development policies getting hijacked to meet other objectives. As far as the economy is concerned, India is still one of the fastest growing economies, but given that it is more interconnected globally than it was in 2008-09 when it successfully overcame the global recession, today the economy increasingly faces pressure due to changes in
economic conditions overseas.

Xi Jinping has emerged as an astute Chinese premiere in the last five years who harbours a vision to re-build the age old Silk Route.

He not only has set in motion its physical progress, but has also created financial institutions like the Beijing based Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) to fund this ambition. Yet, Xi has also made legislative changes to anoint himself as the President for life. While China has incrementally progressed over the last two decades, the 2008 financial crisis set America back and China took the opportunity to flourish. Coincidentally, there are similarities between Russia and China. Both economies are not only acerbic to US hegemony and would like to see a weaker Western alliance but may also end up seeing one of the longest serving heads of nation in modern times, while being accused of curbing journalistic freedom, and access to select websites.

South Africa the smallest amongst the BRICS peer, has enormous resources and great wealth but also vast inequality and poverty. Cyril Ramaphosa who is universally acknowledged as a supporter of democratic ideals, assumed leadership earlier this year at the back of corruption governance, and promises to ameliorate these anomalies. The outlook of the South African economy however is not that promising. The economy is growing below 2%, and various rating agencies have opined GDP growth to decelerate further. Nevertheless,
the unemployment rate increased from about 20% in 1994 to about 27% in 2018.

Post the global financial crisis in 2008, the contours of the world’s socio-economic fabric has experienced a phenomenal change – increasing anti-globalization and trade protectionism (initiated by the US and retorted by China), isolationism and economic nationalism (due to BREXIT, Trump, etc.), apart from the pockets of sporadic conflicts (as witnessed in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, etc.).

Most of these dispensations, as in other emerging and developed economies, echoes similar sentiments. They assume everything that has been done in the past was not in the right spirit and order, and hence a sense of renaissance. However, as the world goes through these, it is worth recalling how difficult the changeover to democracy was in the first place for many of these economies. On the contrary, while appreciating the present-day nuances it would be desirable to have more of a balanced narrative, make course corrections wherever required, rather than reinventing the political and socioeconomic discourse.


Recent Posts

Date Published: February 2024
Фонд Росконгресс, 09.01.2024 1 января 2024 г. Россия приняла эстафету председательства в БРИКС, которое согласно одобренному в августе прошлого года р...
Date Published: December 2023
The rapid growth of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) alliance over the years has spearheaded a new engine for global economic growth...
Date Published: November 2023
Dr BE Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Our continent finds itself in a fast and ever-changing global environment. Many ...