The two day BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India=China-South Africa) summit slated to kick off tomorrow, will be closely scrutinised for reasons more than one. While this will be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first appearance at an international forum since Moscow’s invasion into Ukraine in February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence at the summit despite China’s reluctance to pull back from the friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh has also raised eyebrows.
Modi, incidentally attended the four member QUAD summit in Tokyo last month. And now the Prime Minister's participation at the BRICS summit once again underscores the point that India will be guided by its strategic autonomy, analysts said.
While earlier Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s pitstop visit to India in March was aimed at creating a conducive platform to facilitate Modi’s presence at the BRICS summit, the Prime Minister’s participation will also underscore India’s foreign policy ethos driven by strategic autonomy.
“Now the Prime Minister’s participation in the BRICS forum will be a message to the world that New Delhi’s foreign policy is driven by its own interests and strategic autonomy,” Anil Trigunayat, former ambassador and Distinguished Fellow at Vivekananda International Foundation earlier told India Narrative.
“Even as bilateral talks go on, multilateral platforms work on their own steam and ethos. BRICS is an important organisation and India will do everything to support it,” Trigunayat said, adding that this also shows that as a grouping, it has matured.
Incidentally none of the BRICS members has condemned Moscow for its Ukraine attack despite US’ pressure.
Sources told India Narrative that notwithstanding the impasse over the border, Beijing has been particularly keen to have Modi at the summit.
For China, which also holds the chair for the RIC (Russia-India-China) trilateral in 2022, the importance of BRICS and the New Development Bank (erstwhile BRICS Bank) has only risen amid the ongoing geopolitical uncertainties.
“For China too this is a statement, especially with such rapid geopolitical shifts, Beijing is keen to strike a chord with India,” he said.
Meanwhile, for Russia too, this summit will be critical.
Amid stringent sanctions thrashed out by the US and European Union, Russia is looking to strengthen the BRICS platform. "At a time when the US and other western countries have been trying hard to isolate Russia, this platform will be crucial for Moscow as it tries to integrate further with the Asian countries," an insider said.
The BRICS block, home to 42 per cent of the global population, accounts for 25.7 per cent of world GDP. The World Economic Forum noted that the BRICS countries attract more than 18 per cent of the global total of foreign investment, hold 40 per cent of all foreign-exchange reserves, and account for 30 per cent of total foreign holdings of US Treasury bonds.
Importantly the BRICS consumption markets are worth more than $4 trillion, “equivalent to those of the eurozone.”