BRIC reflects a wish to pluralize global order

Can Brazil, Russia, India
and China
(BRIC) help change the world order?

Power shifts underscore BRIC’s potential

Brahma Chellaney
Professor, Centre for Policy Research

The Economic Times, June 19, 2009

BRIC concept, conceived in 2001 by a Goldman Sachs economist, was embraced by
the four countries themselves only last year when their foreign

ministers met on
the sidelines of the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral. The expansion of RIC
into BRIC through Brazil’s addition has created a potentially powerful
bloc, given the projections that the BRIC nations could surpass the present
leading economies by the middle of this century. Yet it is true that there is
little in common among the BRIC states, prompting cynics to call BRIC an
acronymic ingenuity with no substance.

But just because the BRIC
nations do not constitute a unified bloc at present cannot detract from
BRIC’s long-term potential at a time of tectonic power shifts in the
world. The qualitative reordering of power underway, symbolises the birth-pangs
of a new world order. The world clearly is at a defining moment in its history.
In that light, new forums like BRIC could evolve as important instruments to
bring about change in the global architecture. After all, the global
institutional structure has remained static since the mid-20th century even as
the world has changed fundamentally.

BRIC, by acting as a pressure
group, can be a catalyst to international reform, including an overhaul of the
Bretton Woods system and a supranational currency as the world’s reserve
currency. Rather than help recreate institutions for the changed times,
entrenched interests already are conjuring up short-term fixes for the multiple
crises the world confronts — from the global financial tumult to global
warming. To make such interests cede some power, emerging economies need to act
in concert.

BRIC, however, remains a nascent initiative, and its
recent fleeting first summit was piggybacked on the Shanghai Cooperation
Organisation (SCO) meeting. Such piggybacking may have helped the SCO get more
publicity but left BRIC with little space to formulate a unified action plan.
Considering that it represents 25% of the earth’s landmass and 40% of its
population, BRIC needs to emerge as a real bloc.

(c) Economic Times, 2009

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