7th Meeting of BRICS Communications Ministers

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    In News 

    • Recently, the Minister of State for Communications of India chaired the 7th meeting of BRICS Communications Ministers

    Key Points of Meeting

    • Recognized the significant role of ICTs:
      • The Ministers encouraged continuous cooperation in ICTs activities in international organizations and multilateral forums such as the International Telecommunications Union and other organizations.  
      • They recognized the significant role of ICTs in increasing the effectiveness of BRICS countries’ response to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Develop multi-pronged approaches and reference models
    • The Ministers discussed the need to work together to develop multi-pronged approaches and reference models for affordable access to communications services and digital technologies for benefitting people, thereby achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
    • The risks and ethical dilemmas 
      • Ministers expressed concerns on the risks and ethical dilemmas related to Artificial Intelligence and encouraged members to work together to deal with such concerns and risks of Artificial Intelligence and its ethical and responsible uses.
    • Terms of References of Digital BRICS Task Force
      • Ministers adopted the Terms of References of Digital BRICS Task Force and supported the advancement in work of the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) across several Working Groups meeting in 2021. 
    • 360-degree approach on New Industrial Revolution
      • Ministers also appreciated the discussion on the “360-degree approach on New Industrial Revolution” in a seminar during Working Group on ICTs Cooperation
    • Digital BRICS Forum
      • Ministers adopted the proposal to host the Digital BRICS Forum annually to facilitate sharing of information and knowledge, practices, initiatives, etc. on agreed cooperation areas.   
    • Appreciation of  India’s efforts 
      • BRICS Ministers appreciated India’s efforts in keeping up the momentum of BRICS cooperation in ICTs. 

    About BRICS

    Background 

    • July 2006: The leaders of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries met for the first time in St. Petersburg, Russia, on the margins of the G8 Outreach Summit. 
    • September 2006: Shortly afterwards, the group was formalised as BRIC during the 1st BRIC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which met on the sidelines of the UN Assembly in New York City.
    • June 2009: After a series of high-level meetings, the 1st BRIC summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
    • September 2010: The BRIC group was renamed as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) after South Africa was accepted as a full member at the BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York. 
    • During the Sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza (Brazil) in 2014, the leaders signed the Agreement establishing the New Development Bank (NDB – Shanghai, China). They also signed the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement to provide short-term liquidity support to the members.

    Composition

    • BRICS consists of the major emerging economies from the world, comprising 41% of the world population.
    • It contributes 24% of the world GDP.
    • It has a 16% share in world trade.
    • The total combined area of 29.3% of the total land surface of the world.

    Three pillars of intra-BRICS cooperation

    • Political and Security: It aims to enhance cooperation and dialogue on issues of global and regional security, developments in the global political space for peace, security and prosperity. The priorities under this pillar are:
      • Reform of the Multilateral System
      • Counter-Terrorism Cooperation
    • Economic and Financial: It aims to promote economic growth and development for mutual prosperity through the expansion of intra-BRICS cooperation in sectors such as trade, agriculture, infrastructure, small and medium enterprises, energy and finance & banking. Recognizing the advantages of using technological and digital solutions for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals in BRICS countries with a special focus on:
      • Implementation of the BRICS Economic Partnership Strategy 2020-25.
      • Operationalization of the BRICS Agriculture Research Platform.
      • Cooperation on Disaster Resilience.
      • Innovation Cooperation.
      • Digital Health and Traditional Medicine.
    • Cultural and People to People:   It aims to qualitatively enrich and enhance intra-BRICS people to people contacts in cultural, academic, youth, sports, business, through regular exchanges. Exchanges among Parliamentarians, young scientists etc. are also held.

    Significance of BRICS

    • A platform for global issues: India along with Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa actively engages on issues of global importance through BRICS. E.g.
      • Global financial and security situation, countering terrorism, climate change, sustainable development, reform of the multilateral system, reform of WTO and institutions of international governance, ways to promote Intra-BRICS cooperation including in science & technology, trade, health, information and communication technology, people-to-people exchanges.
    • Drives Economic Growth: BRICS countries have been the main engines of global economic growth over the years. From inception, finance and trade have been a major area of Intra-BRICS Cooperation. 
      • The New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) are the major outcomes in this area.
    • Counter-Terrorism: Counter-Terrorism Working Group in BRICS has set up subgroups to cover various aspects of countering terrorism.
      •  At the same time, BRICS has emerged as a major factor in a peaceful, prosperous and multipolar world. 
      • BRICS Leaders have been supporting India’s stand on countering terrorism and that terrorism is not acceptable in any form and manifestation. 

    Challenges for BRICS

    • Cooperation among Members: Whether it can manage the internal contradictions among its members while also simultaneously expanding its agenda to become a more consequential voice at the international level, will determine its success in the coming years.
    • Domestic Economic Growth: The increased intra-BRICS cooperation in areas like health, science and technology, environment, finance, trade, agriculture, etc. will be difficult to sustain if the member states cannot provide the levels of domestic economic growth that ‘provides the basis for their international positions.’ 
    • Containing Assertiveness of China: The rise of China and its resultant impact on the world order has raised questions about the impact of a rising power on multilateral processes.
    • The negative impact of other Global Institutions: Given that BRICS countries on their own are not in a position to mount global efforts to deal with large-scale crises, paralysis at the level of other multilateral institutions negatively affects agenda formation in BRICS.
    • Role of other Nations: The role of other emerging powers, their foreign policy choices in an evolving global order and response to the US-China equation will affect multilateral behaviour, including that of BRICS.

    Conclusion

    • The BRICS countries are “indeed different from a few developed countries in their attitude towards multilateralism and multilateral cooperation.
    • The BRICS countries stress the need to observe the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and oppose exceptionalism and double standards.
    • BRICS are committed to extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and oppose hegemonic bullying and zero-sum games. 
    • BRICS pursue openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and reject bloc politics and ideological confrontation.

    Source: PIB