The meeting between the Russian and South African presidents at the recent BRICS summit in Johannesburg was particularly valuable marking the birth of a new stage in bilateral relations. The course for all-out cooperation was sealed by the signing of a Joint Statement.
In 1216, Genghis Khan sent envoys to Samarkand, the capital of Ala ad-Din Muhammad II, Emperor of Khwarezm, bearing gifts of gold, jade, ivory and cloaks spun from the hair of white camels. “I know your power and the vast extent of your empire”, his letter read, “and I regard you as my most cherished son. For your part, you must know that I have conquered China and all the Turkish nations north of it; my country is an anthill of soldiers and a mine of silver, and I have no need of other lands. Therefore, I believe I have we have an equal interest in encouraging trade between our lands”.
With India announcing that all five BRICS member states are united in acknowledging the global threat posed by terrorism, and that those who support terror are as much a threat to us than those who perpetrate acts of terror, the eighth BRICS summit came to an end on Sunday in Goa. The BRICS agenda moved forward a bit with the BRICS leaders united in their “view to establish the BRICS Agriculture Research Platform, BRICS Railway Research Network, BRICS Sports Council, and various youth-centric fora” and agreeing “to fast track the setting up of a BRICS Rating Agency” based on market-oriented principles to “further bridge the gap in the global financial architecture.”
Heading into the BRICS summit in Goa last weekend, Indian diplomacy sought four key objectives. First, use the forum to strengthen bilateral relationships with all four countries, especially Russia and China. BRICS as a grouping will undoubtedly be served well, and its mandate strengthened, as a result of political exchanges at the bilateral level. Second, stabilise the BRICS regime at a time when some of its major constituents have been perceived as disruptive forces in the international order. Third, leverage the platform to highlight concerns of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, and lend momentum to India’s efforts to promote a comprehensive, multilateral instrument to tackle terrorism. And fourth, consolidate and build on the institutionalisation of intra-BRICS initiatives, aimed mainly at promoting economic growth.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the “BRICs,” the term I coined to refer to the major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, and China (South Africa was added in 2010). Recently, my brief tenure in the British government came to an end, following the completion of an independent review on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) that I had been chairing. As I ponder what to do next, I can’t help but return to the subject of the anniversary. Have those large and promising emerging economies fulfilled expectations?