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BRICS-BIMSTEC Summit And Modi's Ambition
The Goa summit has less to do with India's desire to resume romance with old friend Russia or with the rearrangement of post-Cold War friendships. It's clear that ties are driven by geopolitical realities and compulsions of the fiercely competitive arms market
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Diplomats do not like surprises, they like to be informed and stay in control. For any meeting in the South Asian region, be it BRICS, ASEAN or a BIMSTEC summit, India-Pakistan terrorism issue is bound to be on top of everyone's mind. Even in the case of BRICS 2016 in Goa, the script was officially known before the leaders disembarked their special aircraft.
The agendas were about the Indo-Russia arms deal and India talking tough on terrorism. But this summit unfolded differently on two edges - firstly India delivered the script single-handedly and the style in which India presented its views came out to be a surprise.
Undoubtedly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi earned this strong image post the surgical strikes on its trouble-making neighbour Pakistan. He gathered enough support on the issue from world leaders and the significant others subsequently joined in. At the end, it seems like Pakistan has lost an ally in Russia and would have to speed shop fighter jets which it requires badly. It also had to take criticism when it was branded as a 'mothership of terror'.
At times the terrorism discussion also took over the arms deals that Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin had to sign, which fortunately closed at whopping $24 billion. For Indians, it was a case of killing many birds with one stone. Most importantly, in the deals India signed, it purchased five S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia, which alone amount to $6 billion (nearly Rs 40,000 crore). India finally gets its most advanced anti-aircraft missile systems, fulfilling the long-overdue plan to modernize its military.
The Russian card that India played was clearly not an overnight brainwave. It was a long thought-out one. Apparently it included Modi bringing P.S. Raghavan, the Russian-speaking former Indian ambassador in Moscow, into his policy-making team well in time.
However, the Goa summit has less to do with India's desire to resume romance with an estranged, old friend or with the rearrangement of post-Cold War friendships. It's quite clear that ties are driven by geopolitical realities and compulsions of the fiercely competitive arms market. Keeping trade in mind PM Modi has decided to establish trade-ties with the 68 countries which have never been India's trade partner ever and slowly garner support against terrorism from small and big nations. By the end of the year, there won't be any nation left where Indian ministers have not visited.
Finally, with the Goa Declaration, India encountered a bit of failure. A consensus couldn't be reached on "cross-border terrorism" in the declaration, which in paragraph 59 mentioned "dismantling terrorist bases". India's efforts to get a BRICS credit rating agency appeared to have hit a roadblock due to lack consensus after some members voiced "concerns" over the "credibility" and access to "dependable data" for the new entity to take on the Wall Street-based Big 3 run on commercial principles.
Acording to media reports over the weekend, China had raised certain concerns about the proposal and was not in favour of setting up one now. One of the prime reservations stemmed from the current approach of making the issuer paying for the rating and the strong desire of shifting it to an investor-pays approach to make it more credible.
Other factors which have been flagged included the weighting accorded to a particular country's sovereign rating while assigning the sovereign rating, without considering an issuer's capital position.
But if we take a good look at the big picture, the BRICS summit 2016 is definitely a great step ahead, taking forward India with strategic partners to financial strengths and diplomatic heights.