Prime Minister, Narendra Modi recently attended the 11th BRICS summit in Brasilia on Wednesday. BRICS primarily comprises five countries namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Modi has described the just-concluded summit as ‘very productive’ in terms of cementing ties in trade, innovation, technology and culture. A special focus has been put on futuristic subjects that will lead to deeper cooperation to benefit the people of our respective nations.
The new areas of BRICS cooperation spearheaded by Brazil, primarily comprise of strengthening of cooperation on science, technology and innovation, enhancement of cooperation on digital economy, invigoration of cooperation on the fight against transnational crime, especially against organised crime, money laundering and drug trafficking, and encouragement to the rapprochement between the New Development Bank and the BRICS Business Council.
Mr Modi assured of India’s full cooperation towards the multilateral financial institutions in promoting global growth. Also, he called for the opening of the Regional branch of the New Development Bank in India. Further, he suggested BRICS Business Council create a roadmap to achieve the 500 billion dollar intra-BRICS trade target by the next summit.
Now, if we carefully look into the main theme of the summit, economic growth for an innovative future, we will see a lot of hurdles associated with climate change coming up. So far in India, the climate crisis has worsened significantly, and no concrete measure has been designed to combat the same. So in this scenario, it is difficult to estimate whether the proposed agenda of development will not interfere further. It can also be anticipated that the resources utilised to ease out the environmental conservation will affect the overall allocation required to achieve the desired economic development.
If we recall the recent massive fire that broke out in the Amazon forest, also known as the ‘lungs of the earth’, it was, too, an outcome of measures taken for development. When questioned about his take on the matter, Bolsonaro stated, “We are open to explore our potential in a sustainable way, through partnerships that add value.” But did that happen? Perhaps not! Unfortunately, environment and sustainability always take a backseat not only in Brazil but in several other emerging economies, and India, too, is a part of the league. When activists raised concern against this major deforestation, we claimed that they did want the nation to progress. Hence, the solution and concern of environmental crisis remain confined to mere verbal assurance and chances are feeble that these would materialise ever.
The biggest evidence of this is the UN Climate Change Summit that took place in September this year. It made quite a few significant announcements like building a consortium of pension funds, and insurance companies pledged to end all of their investments in carbon-intensive industries and stated that divestment is a great way to reduce pressure on the fossil fuel industry. However, it is seldom seen that big companies actually go for such divestment.
Moreover, India, U.S. and China were declared the highest emitters of greenhouse gases, but there was no significant step discussed from any of these countries. The BRICS summit was no exception, as there was very little focus on managing sustainability, and even though few points were raised, there was no discussion on the execution of the same.
Union Environment Minister of India, Mr Prakash Javadekar praised the initiatives of BRICS countries to tackle the environmental crisis. He stated, “All five countries are rising and have many experiences to share, and these experiences will definitely help all the economies to improve further in our climate action efforts and protecting environment while ensuring growth at the same time.” But the question remains the same. How is this going to happen?
Mr Javadekar only highlighted initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Mission, Waste Management Rules, Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement and National Clean Air Programme as a solution to this. But so far, they have not shown any significant positive impact. Also, measures like electric mobility, marine litter, urban forestry scheme, development of resource efficiency policy will incur substantial allocation of funds, the source of which has not been clarified. Will it be through investment in the cause? If so, then will it not potentially hamper the projected economic growth and industrialisation? All these are still unanswered.
It will be interesting to note that not climate crisis but various other commitments that India made in the previous BRICS summits in South Africa and China have a remarkable deviation from the idea of execution. In the 10th BRICS summit in South Africa, the focus was on various issues that India is yet to get in action. One such agenda was to promote Global Economic recovery, introducing strong financial reforms and back government sectors significantly. If all the factors are to be considered, then India should have had a plan to boost the manufacturing industry and create strong financial reforms to counter the approaching global recession. However, we are far from attaining any of these! Further, the conflict between diversity and inclusion and a logical approach to scientific, technical, innovation and entrepreneurship cooperation are still distant dreams.
The question is, how much value do these strategies discussed in such a critical summit add to each of the member nations individually? Be it industrial growth, employment generation, climate crisis or sustainability, India is yet to incorporate any logical step. Instead, an unnecessary divide develops between the group that advocates environmental protection and the group, which believes that sustainability is just secondary development. There has been no intention of discussion on how these two important factors can be collaborated so that a fair solution comes out. More investors and organisations should be encouraged to contribute towards this issue actively; this should be the task of the government. The hope will always be firm that the result of this summit should be fruitful for India in the long run.