BRICS TO Rebuild

BRICS TO Rebuild The House

Dated Published: February 2016

As unusual as it may sound, managementspeak sometimes does lead to good ideas. One such idea came from Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill grouping the four growing emerging markets— Brazil, Russia, China and India—into the acronym ‘BRIC’ in 2001. Eight years later, BRIC emerged as a formal plurilateral grouping and, in 2010, South Africa’s bid to join BRIC was successful, adding the ‘S’ to the acronym. Between the five countries, BRICS accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s
GDP and 43 percent of the world’s population. Three BRICS members are nuclear states; two are permanent members of the UN Security Council; all are in the G20.

Seven years later, serious questions are being raised about individual BRICS states as well as the relevance of the grouping. China’s ‘growth transition’ continues to both drive and spook global markets; the once axiomatic proposition “China is the world’s factory” no longer seems to hold. Between Crimea and Syria, Russian military power remains capable of upending the current geostrategic status quo. With the start of the impeachment proceedings against Dilma Rousseff in December last year, Brazil’s political future remains uncertain, likely to exacerbate its worsening economic condition.

Unemployment in South Africa rose to a 10-year high in 2015, at 26.4 percent.1 India, meanwhile, seems to be getting back on track. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a vigorous engagement with the world since coming to power in 2014, bringing both Beijing and Washington closer to New Delhi in
a pragmatic way. Without any hyperbole: India is, in fact, the ‘B’ in BRICS, the ‘bright spot.’ If BRICS has to be more than a buzzword, India’s economic performance at home and diplomatic vigour
abroad are what could transform the coalition to a credible creator of new growth and development space. This should be India’s stated objective as it assumes the BRICS presidency this year.

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