Can BRICS lead the world?
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the 11th BRICS summit on November 13-14 in Brasilia, Brazil. After 10 years of success, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) are looking to expand their role in the world. BRICS is spread over four continents and its market size makes it an important group in world affairs. Member countries are working for their continent’s growth and world growth.
Though there have been small differences between India and China on some issues, like Kashmir, CPEC, BRI etc, informal summits between their two leaders may help to remove these gaps. Continuing the same success of BRICS in future mainly depends on India and China, How these two countries manage their border issues, trade issues and the Chinese support to Pakistan will remain big issues between these two countries.
With a population of 3.1 billion, BRICS represents 41% of the world population, which is 31% more than the 10% global share of population of the G7 countries. Currently, the G7 contribute 46% of the global GDP (nominal) and 32% of GDP (in Purchasing Power Parity). With Britain’s Brexit, Italy’s debt crisis, America’s withdrawal from the world, Japan and Germany’s slowdown, western fragmentation has led to the G7 becoming voiceless and in an economic slowdown. Now, the US$22.393 trillion BRICS represents 25% of global GDP and US$ 40.55 trillion G7 represents 32% of GDP (in PPP).
BRICS will soar by 2035. If it goes in the same way, the G7 contribution to global GDP will fall below the BRICS by 2035. After observing the hegemony and bias of western countries on the IMF and World Bank, in getting developmental project loans with high-interest rates, and in the leadership of the World Bank being only open to US citizens while only a European can lead the IMF, India proposed the New Development Bank (NDB) by BRICS countries at the 2012 New Delhi summit. The NDB started with a capital of US$100 billion and has given many developmental loans to its member countries. Though NDB works in a different manner to the World Bank and IMF, there is a possibility of the NDB leading the world due to western decline and the enlargement of BRICS. NDB provides loans mainly to transport, energy and water management projects. Soon it may give loans to non-member countries also.
In recent years, BRICS countries are performing better than G7 countries in many areas, like science and technology. India’s Chandrayaan, Mangalayan, Brahmos and Tejas; China’s lunar and Mars projects; and Russia’s defence and space projects make the BRICS grouping a powerful force in today’s world. BRICS countries are also more committed towards climate change, keeping in mind that NDB gives high priority loans for renewable energy projects. Some assessments are saying that India, China and Russia will surpass their SDG targets. However, the G7 is divided on the climate change issue; USA has withdrawn from the Paris agreement and it is not even interested to talk on climate change. If these most industrialized countries are not ready to take up the pressing issue of climate change, the entire world will lose faith in these countries.
If G7 wants to survive as an esteemed forum in the world, it has to enlarge the forum by including India and China. If the G7 is not ready to enhance itself, then its survivability will be the biggest question in future. For greater influence in the world, BRICS also need to consider enhancing the bloc, because many countries from different regions, like Indonesia, Nigeria and Bangladesh, are growing fast and playing a greater role in their regions. The BRICS will get a more influential voice in the world by adding these countries to the bloc. Until then, there is still a long way to go for the BRICS to become the leading global economic powerhouse.