tharoor167_Rao AiminXinhua via Getty Images_brics summit Rao Aimin/Xinhua via Getty Images

Are the BRICS Breaking Up?

India has always been the indispensable swing vowel in the BRICS acronym. If the bloc’s current strategic direction and possible enlargement push the country toward the exit, the grouping will become not just unpronounceable, but also unviable.

NEW DELHI – The recent virtual BRICS summit, which brought together the heads of state and government of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, was interesting as much for what did not happen as for what did. The two-day gathering was marked by some constructive discussion but also platitudes and pablum, and concluded with a grandly titled but thoroughly anodyne “Beijing Declaration.”

Few doubt the huge potential of the BRICS, which comprises the world’s two most populous countries (China and India), a former superpower (Russia), and two of the biggest economies in Latin America and Africa. But the grouping’s record since the first annual BRIC meeting in 2009 (South Africa joined the bloc the following year) has mostly been a story of lofty rhetoric and chronic underachievement.

The Beijing Declaration states that the BRICS High-Level Dialogue is an opportunity to deepen cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, digital transformation, supply-chain resilience and stability, and low-carbon development. All these goals are being pursued in a variety of multilateral forums.

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