The fourth BRICS Summit is being held in New Delhi today. As it is the first time for India to host a BRICS summit, the country is making active efforts to ensure its success. The summit provides a desirable opportunity for India to present itself as a new emerging power. India is both excited and nervous about the event and its prospects of success.
Since last year, the global economic situation has become more worrying, with the debt crisis in Europe intensifying. It is widely acknowledged that the only force that has the ability to curb the declining world economy is the BRICS group. If any real progress could be made during the New Delhi summit, this will greatly increase India's international prestige.
India has a high expectation on the summit. Sudhir Vyas, secretary of economic relations of the Ministry of External Affairs revealed that reforming global governance mechanism and seeking methods to stop the declining economic situation will top the agenda at this summit.
Scholars from the Observer Research Foundation, India's non-profit public policy think tank, hold that BRICS should act as a go-to institution at critical moments, set the regional and global agenda and provide support for the social and economic development of developing countries, just as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has done to developed countries.
India also hopes a consensus can be formed on issues like UN Security Council reform, the establishment of a BRICS development bank and headquarters, as well as on any decision to induct new members.
Many countries, such as Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia, have all expressed their hope to join the BRICS. Indonesia is the most likely candidate. It's bigger than South Africa both economically and in population. But India believes that one of the reasons for including South Africa into the BRIC during the 2011 summit in Sanya was to marginalize the India-Brazil-South Africa dialogue forum (IBSA), and that if a new member is accepted in this summit, the stability of BRICS will be affected.
As for the establishment of financial institutions by BRICS, India has proposed to build a multilateral bank funded by developing countries to promote the economic development of BRICS nations and other developing countries. It has been reported that Brazil, Russia and South Africa all supported the suggestion, but China has different opinions on the structure and function of the bank.
A BRICS bank will improve the position of BRICS countries in the international financial system and promote reform. But the problem is what the structure and decision-making mechanism of the bank will be like and how the rights and obligations of the members will be defined.
The Indians are proposing a BRICS bank because their country doesn't have adequate funds for development. The country is in dire need of foreign investment to enhance infrastructure construction. Since last year, India has suffered a severe withdrawal of foreign investment.
India needs foreign investments, but is reluctant to be more open to countries like China. If a BRICS bank can be established, India will be able to use the funds to develop its infrastructure and new industries.
Another noteworthy issue at the New Delhi summit is the Syria problem. China and Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that demanded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down while India supported the resolution. M.K.Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat, recently called for BRICS countries to jointly issue an agreed-on proposition for the Syria problem. If the BRICS countries could reach a consensus on the issue, it will be a significant step forward in political cooperation of these countries on global affairs.
India will also certainly mention reform of the UN Security Council. It has been pursuing membership of the Security Council for a long time and sees China as its biggest obstacle. Besides, the trade imbalance between China and India will also be a topic during bilateral discussions at the summit.
The achievements of the New Delhi summit will have great influence on the future development of BRICS. Since South Africa has joined, BRICS now includes all IBSA members, as well as the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) members and the topics that BRICS discusses already cover those of IBSA and BASIC.
South Africa and Brazil think that it has become unnecessary to continue the IBSA, but India still highlights its importance as an alliance of democratic countries. This year's IBSA summit will also be held in India, but the date hasn't been issued yet. India's persistence in backing IBSA suggests the country's hesitance about the prospect of the cooperation among BRICS countries.
China should keep a broad strategic view of India's expectations. China should support the establishment of a BRICS bank, and respect the demands of India and Brazil to become permanent members of the UN Security Council even though the success of the summit could be viewed as a diplomatic victory for India. If the summit is successful, India will have less reason to insist on the continuance of IBSA, and the BRICS as a whole will improve their position in the international system.
Liu Zongyi is a research fellow of Center for South Asia Studies at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.