BRICS – Narendra Modi’s diplomacy debuts

Sixth BRICS Summit logo, to be held at Fortaleza, Brazil.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for his first multilateral meet during the sixth BRICS summit, it is anticipated that there would be parallel informal bilateral meetings held on the sidelines. Interestingly, the prime element on the summit agenda is the BRICS bank, which would be called New Development Bank, with an initial capital of $100 billion of which every member country will pour in $10 billion and while a reserve fund of $100 billion will be created for which China puts in $41 billion, Brazil, Russia and India will pull in $18 billion each and South Africa will pour $5 billion. This bank has been conceived as an alternate pole to the World Bank and the International Monetary fund (IMF) which have been primarily controlled by the Europeans and Americans. BRICS countries decided to create the bank in 2013, when they saw investors pull money away from emerging economics, hurting their currencies, amid expectations that the US would scale back its economic stimulus program, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Along with the bank, there would be various global issues that are triggering energy crisis like Iraq, Syria could be seeing a joint document.

How important the bilateral meets on the sidelines of the summit are, can be deduced from the fact that Prime Minister’s entourage reaches Fortaleza, where the summit is to be held, at 2:30 pm local time and within few hours of that, two important meetings would be over. The first of these is with Chinese president Xi Jinping at the Gran Marquise Hotel, where trade could be a key element since Gujarat under his leadership had given Chinese investment considerable opportunity.

The next meeting is scheduled with Russia in the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis and President Putin is quite positive about India’s response. Incidentally, India had maintained that “calls on all sides to exercise restraint and work together constructively to find political and diplomatic solutions that would safeguard the legitimate interests of all sections of Ukraine’s population, of all countries in the region and promote long-term peace and stability in Europe and beyond”, as had been stated by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh. India’s continuance with pragmatic diplomacy has been a positive respite for the Russians. While Russia is leveraging its energy reserves and has worked out a grand 30 year $400 billion gas deal with China, there would be lot of positive takeaways from this first Modi-Putin meet for India. Since European and US blockage of Putin, his travel to Brazil is being considered a huge moment at this international meet.

A meet with South Africa would be positive given the deep historical bond that the two nations have, but equally important would be the Modi-Rousseff during which issues related to trade, investment, health, environment, science and technology will be discussed. Former Foreign Secretary, Harinder Puri says that trade relations with Brazil stand at around $11 billion but there is tremendous potential (watch here). Environment and science and technology could be areas of tremendous mutual interest since that could bolster the relationship which Indian foreign office already terms as strategic relation. Moreover, cultural bonding could deepen even more since Indian soft power has a strong presence in the form of bollywood, yoga, ayurveda etc.


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