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Vinit asked: Given the different political systems, sizes of economy or stages of economic development, do the BRICS nations have any prospective areas of cooperation?

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  • Jagannath P. Panda replies: Within the BRICS, its constituent members collectively wish to gain a number of objectives at the broader global level, which they are unable to achieve at the individual level. For instance, one of the main objectives of the BRICS is to advance the “reform of international financial institutions, so as to reflect changes in the world economy.” In fact, BRICS has rapidly evolved into a multilateral grouping to exert pressure on the developed economies on issues of global governance, social justice, accountability and legitimacy. There is a greater call for “better representation of the Southern values and interests” on these issues. One of the main targets of the BRICS is to check the US and Western dominance in the global financial institutions, and to demand for better voting rights for the emerging economies in those institutions. There is also a determined attempt to take a strong position and stance on various sensitive global security and political issues.

    Politically, BRICS members may find it hard to build consensus on certain issues, given their different political systems, distinct global objectives and social diversities. Yet, the previous BRICS summits, mainly the ones held at Sanya and New Delhi did indicate that the systemic differences or difference of opinion is not always a result of differences in perception on key global political and governance issues.

    Issues like Iran, Syria and Libya are of immense strategic importance, and BRICS views them as matters of serious concern in global politics. The common BRICS perspective on Iran is an example of this. For instance, at New Delhi summit, BRICS made its stance clear that the US pressure should not be a factor in formulating their relationship with Iran. Within a broader spectrum, India’s perspective on Iran could be different from that of China and Russia, but their common stance on the Iranian nuclear crisis within the stratagem of the BRICS seems to indicate a change in global power politics. In short, BRICS is currently acting more as a “pressure group” in order to maximize the claim and share of the developing world. The very existence and the rapid rise of BRICS remains a constant reminder of the declining supremacy of the US, indicating that a power shift is underway currently at the broader global level.