BRICS gets six new members: Significance, what it means for India

BRICS gets six new members: Significance, what it means for India

Context- The five-member BRICS invited six more countries to join the alliance on August 24, in a move which can strengthen its claim of being a ‘voice of the Global South’ on one hand, while raising concerns about China’s increasing dominance on the other.

BRICS consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. In its ongoing summit at Johannesburg, South Africa, it has invited Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Their membership will begin in January.


‘Spokesperson of the developing world’

  • Adding new members strengthens the group’s heft as a spokesperson of the developing world. BRICS currently represents around 40% of the world’s population and more than a quarter of the world’s GDP. With the additions, it will represent almost half the world’s population, and will include three of the world’s biggest oil producers, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran.
  • The rush towards BRICS is driven by two basic impulses: “First, there is considerable anti-US sentiment in the world, and all these countries are looking for a grouping where they can use that sentiment to gather together.
  • Second, there is a lot of appetite for multipolarity, for a platform where countries of the Global South can express their solidarity.”
  • The formation of BRICS in 2009 was driven by the idea that the four emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China would be the future economic powerhouses of the world. South Africa was added a year later.
  • While the economic performance of BRICS has been mixed, the war in Ukraine – which has brought the West together on the one hand and strengthened the China-Russia partnership on the other — has turned it into an aspiring bloc that can challenge the western geopolitical view, and emerge as a counterweight to Western-led fora like the Group of 7 and the World Bank.

The new members of BRICS

  • BRICS decisions are unanimous, that is, all members have to agree for any move to go ahead. Among its original members, while Russia finds itself facing a united West as adversary and China-US ties have dipped to a historic low, Brazil, South Africa, and India have important partners in the US and in Europe.
  • China is driving the expansion of the group. After a meeting of BRICS officials in February this year, China’s foreign office had said “membership expansion has become part of the core agenda of BRICS”.
  • The invitation to Iran, whose ties with the West are strained, seems to have a strong China-Russia imprint. The fact that regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran are part of the same grouping is in itself remarkable.
  • China happens to be the biggest buyer of Saudi Arabia’s oil, and had recently brokered a peace deal between Tehran and Riyadh.
  • While Saudi Arabia has traditionally been a US ally, it has been increasingly striking out on its own, and the BRICS membership is in line with that.
  • For Iran and Russia, this membership is a signal to the West that they still have friends globally.
  • Both Egypt and Ethiopia have had longstanding ties with the US too.
  • Argentina, facing a trying economic crisis, will hope for financial aid from BRICS.

What BRICS expansion means for India

  • If India’s presence at the recent G7 summit in Hiroshima, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi also participated in an informal Quad summit, was seen as a sign of New Delhi’s US tilt, it continues to attach importance to the “anti-West” BRICS.

Conclusion- India is also part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and despite problems, it has relations with Russia, with China. While China does want BRICS to be an anti-western group, the Indian view is that it is a “non-western” group and should stay that way.

Syllabus- GS-2; International Security

Source- Indian Express