Indian Decade

Why BRICS 2011 is Important

South Africa’s participation and a UN Security Council ‘connection’ underscore the significance of this year’s summit.

The 3rd BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit began today in Sanya, China, with a new group name (it wasformerly ‘BRIC’) and memberSouth Africa present for the first time. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is representing India with a high-level delegation and will be in Sanya from April 12 to 15 for the important diplomatic event.

BRICS has so far held two summits—the first in Yekaterinburg, Russia in June 2009 and the second in Brasilia, Brazil in April 2010. This year’s Sanya summit is particularly important for two reasons. First, the group has an additional presence from the African continent. Second, all five members of BRICS are also members of the United Nations Security Council—Russia and China are permanent memberswith veto power, while the rest are non-permanent members with a fixed tenure of two years each.

During this BRICS Summit, Singh will have bilateral meetings with all members. However, he’ll likely be particularly intent on communicating with his Chinese counterpart rising Indian concerns surrounding issues such as the steadily increasing presence of Chinese troops in Pakistan and China’s continued discriminatory policy of issuing stapled visas to people from Jammu and Kashmir, while giving normal visas to people from the area known in India as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

Whether China will allow such issues to creep into the agenda is uncertain. In international diplomatic events, the host country is usually given a free hand to prepare the agenda. So with this BRICS summit China’s been granted the same privilege and it’s finalized four main topics for discussions: 1. the international situation at the present time, 2. international economic and financial issues, 3. development issues, and 4. cooperation amongst BRICS countries.

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BRICS’ importance is underscored by the fact that the grouping represents about 26 percent of world’s geographic area, 40 percent of the world’s population, and the member countries are among some of the world’s current fastest growing economies.

Fittingly, there should be a deep focus on trade and investment.