The 14th BRICS Summit, a virtual gathering hosted by China that finished on Saturday, focused on measures to increase the group’s influence on the world arena while also fostering sustainable infrastructure development in the area. One takeaway from this is that BRICS might defuse the frozen border issues between India and China.
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The “structural changes in BRICS in the last few years increased the influence of this institution,” according to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while Chinese President Xi Jinping has condemned US-led sanctions for “weaponizing” the global economy.
Dr. Sandeep Tripathi, Founder and President of the Delhi-based Forum for Global Studies, spoke with Sputnik about the recent BRICS meeting.
Interviewer: China wants India to keep the border dispute separate from the “larger” problem of India-China relations. India has constantly stated that it will not occur till the border problem is settled. Despite the tensions in the background, India attended the BRICS Summit. What factors influence India’s adherence to the BRICS?
Sandeep Tripathi: India’s stance on the border situation firmly underlines that “Talks and Tension” cannot coexist in restoring Indo-China relations to normalcy. However, as a founding member of BRICS, New Delhi aspires to achieve shared interests with the emerging economies, which account for around 40% of the global population.
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As the great game between the US and China, and now the US and Russia, heats up, Beijing and Moscow have taken harsher stances against the West. However, New Delhi was unable to openly attack the West and the United States. In this context, New Delhi has maintained its decision-making autonomy while signaling a peaceful diplomatic solution to the [Ukraine conflict].
Interviewer: Do you believe that BRICS can serve as a venue for India and China to work out their disagreements, considering that the two nations have discussed and agreed to strengthen cooperation in vital domains like space and border security?
Sandeep Tripathi: I am convinced that trade and business are always crucial in defusing geopolitical tensions. This platform has the potential to defuse the current cold tension between India and China. Most crucially, regional or global organizations strengthen member-state collaboration. As a result, BRICS aims to actualize “common interest” and respond to the West’s “binary identity”
On the Russia-Ukraine problem, both India and China have taken a tactical strategic posture. S. Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister, has strongly rejected “European Centralism” on India’s bilateral matters, specifically the India-China border dispute. The border deadlock, according to India’s Ambassador to China Pradeep Kumar Rawat, is a major hurdle that must be addressed via conversation and consultation.
Interviewer: The BRICS declaration produced following the meeting highlights the importance of increasing the group’s influence on the world stage. Many fear that the growing importance of the BRICS will cause India anxiety when dealing with an almost identical grouping, the Quad. Do you concur?
Sandeep Tripathi: India is a country that values the notion of strategic autonomy greatly. India’s bilateral or multilateral overseas involvement today is based on “issue-based alignment,” which preserves “decisional autonomy.”
S. Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister, correctly stated that India has learn0ed to “discover the benefits of working with different powers on different issues.” India’s strategic balancing between Russia and the West on Ukraine issue; the India-Russia Defense deal (S-400 Air Defense Missile System); India and China Face-off and Russia’s stand; India and Quad: Russia’s concern is the most recent example of India’s strategic autonomy. As a result, India’s strategic convergence with BRICS (in constraining the Western-led global order) does not diminish India’s proximity to the Quad in containing aggressive China.
India’s embrace of the Indo-Pacific comes at a time when the country must manage difficult relationships with countries such as Russia, as well as multilateral organizations such as the BRICS and the SCO. The relationship between India and Russia is not complicated. India’s relationship with Russia is founded on empirically validated outcomes rather than theoretical assumptions.
On the Ukraine problem, New Delhi asserted its independence and called for a constructive dialogue between Ukraine and Russia. Furthermore, New Delhi does not refer to the Quad as “Asian NATO.”
Under the intricacies of changing dynamics, whether the Quad or BRICS, New Delhi has its own set of narratives that defend India’s credentials on the world stage.
Interviewer: Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that China wished to collaborate with its BRICS allies to put the Global Security Initiative into action and “bring more stability and positive energy to the world.” Do you believe India would be satisfied with this project, which many see as a rival to the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Forum?
Sandeep Tripathi: This projection of narratives indicates that Russia and China are no longer part of the world order dominated by the United States. India has consistently supported China’s Global Security Initiative as well as the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum sponsored by the United States. Both activities may be considered rivals; New Delhi’s involvement goes beyond perception and counter-perception.
India’s involvement is motivated by national interests rather than the projection of power by powerful countries such as the United States and China. At the Quad meeting, New Delhi had a different stance on Ukraine than the other countries.
The 14th BRICS summit represents the growing significance of developing economies, which contribute for one-fourth of global GDP.
Interviewer: Surprisingly, India, China, and Russia are all competing for a favorable relationship with Afghanistan. Do you envision any BRICS-led collaborative plan for crisis-torn Afghanistan?
Sandeep Tripathi: In order to respond to Afghanistan’s dilemma, New Delhi has chosen pragmatic flexibility. From the start, India’s tone and tenor were not identical to those of the West, Russia, or China.
Nevertheless, New Delhi can accompany other BRICS member countries in the planned Global Security Initiative. “We strongly support a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasizing the respect for its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, national unity and non-interference in its internal affairs.” says the 14th BRICS Summit Beijing Declaration.
The Beijing Declaration further states that Afghan territory should not be used to intimidate any nation or to harbor or train terrorists.