Johannesburg, July 26: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to accompany leaders of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa to the podium of the 10th BRICS summit on Thursday, July 26, South African daily Times Live termed India's role at the summit to be "very interesting".
In a piece on what exactly the five participants will be looking for in the current BRICS summit, the daily said Prime Minister Modi, on one hand, will seek new deals for India; while on the other, he will have to balance out a "delicate geopolitical game" with powers like the US, Russia and China.
"Show excessive favour to one side and there is the potential for ramifications across the region," the business piece said.
While China will be using the platform to address the economic concerns - mostly from a position of strength, especially in the context of its growing trade tension with the US, which makes it imperative for Beijing to grow its economies ties with members within this club.
For South Africa and Brazil, the hunt will be more for economic relief as both countries are facing challenges on that front; while for Russia, it is more about the political than the economic. Just like China requires a platform to fight its economic rivalry with the West, Russia needs one to tackle the western offenses against it.
India, as a BRICS member, has a mixed purpose to serve
India is one of those members of the BRICS group which has rather a mixed purpose to serve. Neither it is in a position of economic strength or weakness or political vulnerability and has a lot to gain from this platform. Unlike China and Russia who do not have a smooth relationship with the US, India still has a decent rapport with the US despite the odd irritants and that makes it more a power which has to balance its foreign policy priorities between the East and the West for both 'give and take'. India has done well so far in handling the balancing task with PM Modi lending informal touches to New Delhi's bilateral relations with a number of big powers.
India's advantage lies in the fact that it is a fast-developing economy with a predominantly soft power. Its soft power helps India to make friends easily and quicker compared to countries that follow hard diplomacy. India though is economically trailing China by some distance, its global reputation is not too less because of its stable democracy and soft power diplomacy.
India has done well in cementing its ties with African countries even if China has done better and Modi's informal summits with the Chinese and Russian leaders earlier this year has made it evident that it hasn't allowed unilateral forces to dictate its foreign policy, with the perhaps Iran being the only exception.
For India, BRICS is a platform to put its geopolitical and geo-economic diplomacy to good use. Just like the membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has elevated India's significance in Eurasian security affairs, BRICS gives India the opportunity of becoming a key part of the effort to flag off a new international order dominated by the global South.