There is need for a wide and intense public debate on India’s membership of various regional and other forums like BRICS. Some of the points to be debated are:
1.Whether BRICS will push up Russia and China to more prominent roles on par with that of United States in world affairs
2.Mmbership of fora like BRICS diverts attention from bing focussed on other imprtant and urgent issues
3.There is not much comonality of interests between India and some other BRICS members. Increasing gold prices benefit Soth Africa,Russia and China who are major prodcers while it badly affects India, which is a large importer.
4. Increae in oil prices is against India’s interests, but to be on the other side of US,Russia and China often take positions fabourable to oil exporting Arab countries.
5.Rupee trade agreements were in practice decades ago between India and countries like East European contries, Egypt. India does not have to be member of BRICS to practic it again and with any country to increase trade
6. Extending more credit in Indian Rupees to developing contries will lead to increase in India’s exorts.
7.. To increase exports and also imports, India should become a trading nation like Singapore, UAE,Hong Kong etc.to emerge as one of the top 5 importers/exprters. Indian Missions in BRICS countries can play a larger role to forge closer relations even without the existence of BRICS forum
8.India’s inerests and concerns appear to correspond to those of US in matters like fight
against terrorism, nuclear programme of new countries, democracy, individual’s freedom, fundamental rights etc.
9.The common futures which exist between these countries may not continue in future also.
In the past India used to be a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth and Non-aligned Movement. But now, one has lost count of the number of organizations or groups in which India is a member or with which India is associated with. Of course, some other countries also have become members of many regional groups, but in the case of India, some of the groups do not seem to be natural. In some cases, there is more to give than to take.
India spends a lot of time and energy of not only the officers but also of Ministers and Prime Minister and President in preparing for and attending the numerous meetings and summits. When more important and urgent work is awaiting VIPs and VVIPs in India, they are made to travel to foreign countries to attend to these meetings. India already has its Embassies and High Commissions and has good bilateral relations with the members of the groups. India can deal with the individual countries without additional efforts through its Missions.
It is time to review the usefulness of India’s membership in or association with some of the following groups in terms of additional trade, investment, political support etc.
- Bay of Bengal Initaitve for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)
- Member countries: Bangladesh, India, Myammar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, Nepal
- Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC)
- Member countries: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Tanzania
- India, Brazil and South Africa Diaglogue Forum (IBSA)
- Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC)
- Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
- Member countries: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan (India has observer status)