The BRICS test for India’s multipolarity rhetoric – The BRICS Summit: A Stress Test for Indian Diplomacy and the Future of Geopolitics | 22 August 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the upcoming BRICS Summit, which will be a stress test for Indian Diplomacy and the future of Geopolitics.


  • GS2: IR – Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Essay
  • Prelims


  • The upcoming BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) summit in South Africa from August 22 to August 24 is set to be a significant event for Indian diplomacy and a potential indicator of future geopolitics.
  • This article discusses the role of BRICS in global governance, the challenges faced by India in navigating its geopolitical choices, and the implications of the summit for the international system.


  • BRICS and Global Governance:
    • BRICS is seen as a potential entity capable of influencing the future of world politics, despite its limitations in creating economic agreements and influencing global geopolitics.
    • The deeply unrepresentative nature of global governance institutions has led to their failure, creating a vacuum that forums like BRICS can fill, even if inadequately.
    • BRICS has attracted interest from many countries, reflecting a sense of angst and anger in the global South about their place in the world.
  • Geopolitical Uncertainty and India's Dilemmas:
    • In a time of global geopolitical uncertainty, middle powers like India seek to utilize forums like BRICS to make sense of global headwinds and influence geopolitics.
    • India's participation in non-western multilateral forums such as BRICS and the SCO is a response to the undemocratic and inequitable governance structures of post-World War II institutions.
      1. For India, the geopolitical choices today are neither crystal clear nor easy to make. For one, where does India belong in the global geopolitical landscape?
      2. There is, for instance, a tendency in the West to view India’s membership of BRICS and the SCO in the context of the Ukraine war and the United States/West versus the standoff with Russia.
      3. An oft-repeated question is: “How can India be a part of the Quad [Australia, Japan, the U.S., India], G-20, G-7 and BRICS, SCO and global South at the same time?” That is a deeply ahistorical view.
      4. India’s active participation in non-western multilateral forums such as BRICS, SCO and global South must also be seen as India’s response to the undemocratic and inequitable governance structures of post-Second World War institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the UNSC.
      5. At the same time, India’s objective is not (and should not be) to create or belong to an anti-U.S./West bloc either.
    • India's geopolitical choices are complex, as it belongs to BRICS, SCO, and the global South, but also aspires to be part of influential forums like the G-20 and G-7.
    • India is located in the middle of an emerging geopolitical faultline, making it challenging to balance its interests and navigate the competing blocs in the international system.
  • The Rise of Competing Blocs and the China Question:
    • The current churn in global geopolitics has led to the rise of competing blocs, with China and Russia aligning their interests against the status quo order led by the US and its allies.
    • India opposes bloc politics but may be drawn into it despite its preference for a multipolar world characterized by equity, inclusion, and representation.
    • India must consider whether its pursuit of a multipolar world and alternative mechanisms for global governance inadvertently strengthens China's rise and agenda.
  • India's Geopolitical Predicament:
    • India must assert itself in non-western forums like BRICS and the SCO while checking China's growing influence in these forums.
    • India must also negotiate its place in Eurocentric forums like the UNSC and the G-7, while dealing with western normative expectations.
    • Balancing these competing interests and navigating India's geopolitical predicament is a complex task that requires promoting equitable global governance without undercutting national interests.

Way Forward:

  • The BRICS summit serves as a stress test for Indian diplomacy and offers insights into the future of geopolitics.
  • India's participation in BRICS and other forums reflects its response to the shortcomings of existing global governance structures.
  • However, India must carefully navigate its geopolitical choices, considering the rise of competing blocs and the implications for its own national interests.
  • The summit will provide valuable insights into the evolving dynamics of global governance and the role of emerging powers like India.

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