When India gave a decisive mandate in favour of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, one of the key expectations was to get the world’s biggest democracy its rightful place in the global pecking order.
Despite India’s vast size, impeccable credentials, strong fundamentals, its rich contribution to the world over the centuries — be it Mathematics or Astronomy — we were often found meek and unable to carve a niche for ourselves.
Only two years down the line, India has turned over a new leaf and is rightfully asserting itself. We are no longer an unsure nation in the global circles that lacked self-belief.
Led by the inspiring leadership of PM Narendra Modi, India’s diplomacy, which has acquired a new sheen, was at its subtle yet vigorous best at the just-concluded 8th BRICS Summit in Goa.
The summit, as well as the bilateral interactions on the sidelines of the mega-event, was a huge success for a number of reasons. The group of five largest emerging economies of the world found common ground on a host of key issues that are not only critical for the growth and development of member nations in the coming years but also the world at large.
The heads of five BRICS nations deserve applause for the historic Goa Declaration that reflects their commitment towards peace, stability and economic prosperity.
|The heads of five BRICS nations deserve applause for the historic Goa Declaration that reflects their commitment towards peace, stability and economic prosperity. (Photo: PTI)|
It is heartening to note that the BRICS' Goa Declaration took a firm stand against the global scourge of terrorism and strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks, including that in India. The BRICS summit also successfully resolved to fight tax evasion and illicit cross-border financial flows.
The choice of words may differ and naysayers may continue to scan the joint statement and look for loopholes, but it is evident that the five member countries were unambiguous about countering cross-border terrorism, radicalisation, recruitment, movement of terrorists including foreign fighters, blocking sources of financing terrorism, and importantly, dismantling terrorist bases.
It is no secret that our immediate neighbour has been a safe sanctuary for terrorists for a long time, where they are not only trained but even guarded by the army.
Prime Minister Modi’s statement that the mothership of terrorism is a nation in India’s neighborhood amply shows that India will keep up the pressure to finish the menace of terrorism. These developments assure that India will also continue to display its steely resolve, as and when needed, to protect its boundaries and citizens.
In our glorious history, there is not even a single instance where India has attacked its neighbour. Yet, at the same time, we have the absolute right to counter any challenge to our sovereignty with all our might. It seems that the era of mincing words and self-restraint is certainly over.
It is no mean achievement that BRICS has the two fastest growing economies in India and China, has world’s largest nation in Russia, and the biggest economies of Latin America and Africa in Brazil and South Africa, respectively.
The five nations together account for 30 per cent of the world’s economic output, 17 per cent share in world trade, and make up 43 per cent of the global population. Thus, the Goa Declaration is bound to have a global impact.
In today's deeply interconnected world, the series of measures aimed at boosting growth will definitely lead to more inclusive growth, take the fruits of expansion to the common man and add to his well-being.
The bloc of five nations has the potential and the ingredients to be the growth engine of the world, especially at a time when the traditional bulwarks are besieged with either recession or a sharp slowdown.
The decision by the BRICS nations to operationalise New Development Bank (NDB) is also a welcome move. The bank promises to meet funding requirements of infrastructure projects not just in BRICS nations but also in other emerging economies. This will ensure faster execution of a wide range of projects, important for the benefit of the masses and lead to all-round development.
The NDB will therefore complement the efforts of other financial institutions and work towards the common objective of global growth. Similarly, the operationalisation of Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) will act as a shield against global liquidity pressures.
Some critics have questioned the longevity of BRICS because the member nations share little in common. Several programs initiated for continued engagement will go a long way in this regard. The 1st BRICS Trade Fair that focused on the development of the MSME sector towards employment generation and the need to further develop Emerging Market and Developing Economics (EMDE) is one such initiative.
Some other programs for strengthening ties are BRICS Network University (BRICSNU), BRICS University League (BRICSUL), Young Diplomat’s Forum, BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting, BRICS Film Festival and Women Parliamentarians’ Forum. In addition, BRICS under-17 football tournament was a great initiative to involve the youth of BRICS nations.
Russia with India
If India’s diplomatic engagement with multiple countries stood out during the BRICS summit, the reinforcement of its time-tested relationship with Russia was another highlight during the Goa sojourn. The PM reaffirmed India’s seven decade long friendship when he used a Russian proverb, "one old friend is better than two new ones", to describe his meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. It also put to rest all speculations that India had started to move away from its all-weather friend as it build bridges with new nations.
The gains for India from this hugely satisfactory deliberation between the two nations have been immense, especially in areas of defence and energy. As many as 16 important deals were signed, including purchase of S-400 missile systems that promises to be a game-changer in countering airborne threats.
Russia will also sell Kamov 226T helicopters and four Krivak class stealth frigates to India. Further, in a boost to "Make in India", the Kamov 226T helicopters will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics and Rostec State Corporation of Russia under a joint production plan.
There were key agreements on the energy front as well that will go a long way in securing India’s hydrocarbon interests. While ONGC Videsh is expected to complete acquisition of 11 per cent stake in Vankorneft from Russia’s Rosneft by the end of this month, we also entered into a pact with Russia for cooperation in areas of oil and gas and explore feasibility of a gas pipeline to India.
As a thriving democracy of 1.25 billion people, India is finally prepared to play its role aggressively when it comes to the global geopolitical cauldron.
While we continue to be accommodative and peace-loving, we are also prepared to give a bloody nose in the event of any misadventure by our foes.
This is no longer the India that always took it on its chin and restricted itself to verbal duel. As seen by recent turn of events, this new India is equipped to quickly shift its gears.