The annual BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Goa on October 15-16 is undeniably the main course but hidden in the main course is a set of ingredients with an independent chemistry, the IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa), along with the plat d’accompagnement , BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), that has as much potential as the main course.
India’s foreign policy:
India & US
- Vigorous engagement with the U.S. on defence, counterterrorism, as well on global-commons issues such as climate change.
India & China
- In the case of China, the tyranny of bilateral disputes (mostly on the strategic side) has prevented both countries from exploring much common ground.
- The China relationship today is heading south, and with effort, it may at best become a well-managed one.
India & Russia
- Moscow as a substantial shift in the intent of India towards the bilateral relationship.
- India needs to use this summit meet and the BRICS engagement to reclaim its traditional space and reassure the Kremlin that Moscow is India’s foremost global partner.
- India in BRICS seeks to downplay its bilateral disputes with China and engage with it on issues where there is space for beneficial cooperation.
The decision to invite BIMSTEC countries, in place of SAARC, to the BRICS summit:
- It is clearly a decision that relocates India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy to its east.
- Brazil, Russia and South Africa have very limited in-roads into the Bay of Bengal littorals and may discover merit in engaging with this community.
- By playing the role of a ‘sincere interlocutor’ between BRICS and BIMSTEC, India stands to gain influence in both (despite China’s growing presence) as a benign transcontinental bridge.
The IBSA potential:(India, Brazil and South Africa)
- IBSA is in many ways more organic than BRICS. Beyond the shared commitment to democracy, the three countries are truly southern and developing economies and have the potential to emerge as a marquee example of south-south cooperation of emerging liberal economies across three continents.
- Going forward, IBSA should engage with both the U.S. and one European power, like Germany, to promote a true concert of democracies across each continent, bringing advanced economies alongside emerging ones.
- Along with BIMSTEC, IBSA points to the multiple collateral possibilities at Goa, and to a new moment that may see recalibration of Indian foreign policy.
Source: The Hindu