BRICS Test: India's Geopolitical Dilemma

BRICS Test: India's Geopolitical Dilemma
Posted on 23-08-2023

Navigating India's Geopolitical Dilemmas: The BRICS Test for Multipolarity

The forthcoming BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, scheduled from August 22 to August 24, will serve as a crucial test for India's diplomatic strategies and reveal potential future geopolitical dynamics. India faces the pivotal decision of aligning itself with either a China-centered or a Western-centered global order, or alternatively, striking a balance between the two.

Challenges and Prospects of the BRICS Bloc

The capacity of BRICS to significantly reshape the global economy is dubious, given its limited drive to establish economic agreements among its members and its seemingly overestimated ability to influence global geopolitics. Presently, BRICS appears more inclined toward revising and responding to global dynamics than actively shaping them.

Nonetheless, the BRICS coalition possesses the latent potential to emerge as a force capable of exerting an impact on world politics. Recent geopolitical events and challenges confronting the United Nations system have revitalized the significance of BRICS. Compared to the UN Security Council and the G-7, BRICS boasts broader global representation, although it remains less extensive than the G-20, which remains dominated by Western powers. The choices made by BRICS during and following the summit could hold significant consequences for the international order.

BRICS as an Alternative Path to Global Governance

The existing Western-led global governance structure is marred by its lack of inclusivity and democracy. Consequently, forums like BRICS are likely to eventually fill this institutional void, regardless of their current inadequacies. Approximately 40 nations have demonstrated interest in joining an expanded BRICS, reflecting the discontent among global South countries concerning their role on the global stage.

Considering the marginalization of middle powers and regional heavyweights amidst a shifting global order, these nations seek platforms such as BRICS to navigate geopolitical uncertainties, hedge their strategies, and influence global politics. Notably, recent developments like the Ukraine conflict and China's ascendancy have revived the relevance of BRICS.

Facilitating Meaningful Discourse on Global Issues

Many countries, particularly those in the global South, often find themselves excluded from mainstream discussions on pressing global topics like climate change and cybersecurity. Forums like BRICS can provide these nations with the flexibility required to address such issues effectively.

India's Complex Dilemma

India confronts intricate geopolitical choices that lack clarity. Its position within the global geopolitical landscape remains uncertain. Western perspectives often frame India's participation in both BRICS and the SCO within the context of the Ukraine conflict and the broader confrontation between the United States/West and Russia. The question arises of how India can simultaneously engage with the Quad, G-20, G-7, BRICS, SCO, and the global South.

Navigating the Rising Geopolitical Faultline with China's Ascent

India's historical, developmental, and geographical context aligns it with BRICS, SCO, and the global South. Simultaneously, its structural and aspirational goals lead it toward the G-20, G-7, and the Quad. This places India amidst a growing geopolitical divide, accepted by both sides but fully integrated into neither. India could serve as a bridge between these divisions, or its lack of allegiance could render it susceptible to emerging geopolitical rivalries.

India's Pursuit of Multipolarity and the Challenge of Rising Blocs

A prominent concern amid the ongoing global geopolitical shifts is the emergence of competing blocs. As China and Russia consolidate their global interests, the organizations they engage with and seek to expand may clash with the existing order led by the U.S. and its allies. India traditionally opposes bloc formation, valuing equitable global governance and multipolarity characterized by equity, inclusivity, and representation.

Nevertheless, India may find itself entangled in bloc politics despite its opposition. A crucial question for India is whether its pursuit of a multipolar world and alternative global mechanisms inadvertently contributes to China's global rise. While a multipolar world necessitates robust alternative forums and potential de-dollarization, these platforms could inadvertently boost China's influence. India's resource limitations could hinder its ability to counterbalance China's sway, paradoxically aiding China's revisionist goals.

Navigating the Uncertain Geopolitical Landscape

India's path forward should focus on promoting equitable global governance while safeguarding its own national interests. While moderating China's influence in non-Western forums, India should also avoid alienating other countries in the global South that perceive merit in China's efforts to expand forum membership.

The geopolitical challenge facing India is complex and requires balancing assertiveness in non-Western forums like BRICS and the SCO with securing a place in Western-centric institutions like the UNSC and the G-7.

In Conclusion

In the realm of global governance, imperfect yet reflective institutions of today are preferable to a single, imperfect institution detached from contemporary realities. The international political arena should prioritize democratic imperfection over hegemonic perfection. India's strategy should involve asserting its rightful position across international forums without becoming ensnared in bloc politics.

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