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04 May, 2020

43 Min Read

Paper Topics Subject
GS-II BRICS ACTION against COVID-19
GS-III R&D Statistics and Indicators Economic Issues
African swine fever: Assam told to go for culling
Open Budget Survey 2019 Economic Issues
Bru crisis and their displacement to Tripura
Mission Demo-2 
PT Pointer Foreign Currency Assets (FCA) Economic Issues
Thrissur Pooram Art and Culture
Important GS Topics BRICS
GS-II :
BRICS ACTION against COVID-19

BRICS ACTION against COVID-19

Part of: GS-II- International Organisations (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

In the global war against the novel coronavirus, emerging economies, many belonging to BRICS, have reached out to other countries humbled by the pandemic.

  • India has reinforced its credentials as a rapidly emerging pharmacy of the world.
  • As the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine,
  • India has recently exported the drug not only to SAARC countries and to its “extended neighbourhood” in the Gulf, but also to Russia, Brazil, Israel and the U.S.
  • This has set the stage for India to forge an inclusive BRICS-driven pharma alliance, which could also actively explore the production of vaccines.

Workshop of the world

  • Despite allegations that it had delayed sounding the alarm about COVID-19 infections that had broken out in Wuhan, China has, subsequently, responded strongly in containing the pandemic, leveraging its position as the workshop of the world.
  • Notwithstanding teething problems and quality concerns, China has steeled the transcontinental response to the disease by providing the “hardware” — masks, gloves, coveralls, shoe covers and testing kits — to hotspots across the globe.
  • Under its Health Silk Road doctrine, the Chinese reached out to two of the worst global hotspots, Italy and Iran.
  • A Chinese shipment of 31 tonnes, which included essential supplies and equipment, including respirators, protective suits, masks and medications, arrived on March 12 in Rome.
  • Soon China was running a medical air bridge bound for Europe.
  • Despite fighting the virus at home, Russia too sent its doctors and virologists overseas, including the launch of the famous ‘From Russia with love’ air mission to Italy.
  • At the request of U.S. President Donald Trump, a Russian Antonov-124, packed with medical supplies and experts, landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
  • Since Soviet times, Russia has top-of-the-line emergency services, which are equipped to handle any kind of emergency including biological attacks, nuclear radiation, and chemical weapon attacks.
  • On the African continent, South Africa, the current rotating head of the African Union, is engaged in framing a pan-African response to COVID-19.
  • Among the BRICS nations, only Brazil’s response may need a course correction, as its resistance to breaking the infection chains through travel bans, lockdowns, isolation and testing appears to have led to an infection surge.

A template for the future-WAY FORWARD

Having demonstrated their comparative strengths as providers of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), BRICS countries now need to pool and coordinate their efforts, in partnership with the WHO, and Europe and North America, both badly affected by the pandemic, as part of a global assault on the virus.

But for seeding a robust institutional HADR response, the BRICS countries may have to reactivate an existing disaster response mechanism, and earmark resources and assets to combat a whole range of natural disasters, with special focus on the emerging economies and the global south.

The Shanghai-based New Development Bank of the BRICS countries has already demonstrated the way forward to allocate financial resources to combat COVID-19. In April, during a meeting of the NDB Board of Governors, NBD President K.V. Kamath announced that apart from disbursing a $1 billion emergency loan to China, and subsequently to India, South Africa and Brazil, the NDB had the financial heft to provide $10 billion in “crisis-related assistance” to BRICS member countries. The NDB’s financial model, demonstrated to address the pandemic, can now become a template to address natural disasters.

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GS-III : Economic Issues
R&D Statistics and Indicators

R&D Statistics and Indicators

Part of: GS-III- Economy (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

According to the Research & Development (R&D) Statistics and Indicators 2019-20 report, India’s gross expenditure in R&D has tripled between 2008 & 2018 and scientific publications have risen placing the country internationally among the top few.

  • The R&D Statistics and Indicators 2019-20 is based on the national S&T survey 2018 brought out by the National Science and Technology Management Information (NSTMIS).
  • The report on R&D indicators for the nation is an important document for the
    • Evidence-based policymaking and planning in higher education,
    • R&D activities and support,
    • Intellectual property,
    • Industrial competitiveness.

Findings of the Report

  • According to the report, R&D is driven mainly by the government sector.
  • Expenditure on R&D:
    • The Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) of India nearly tripled between 2007- 08 to 2017-18.
    • India’s per capita R&D expenditure has also increased by 1.5 times.
    • Increase in Extramural R&D support by central Science & Technology agencies.
      • Women participation in extramural R&D projects has also increased significantly to 24% in 2016-17 from 13% in 2000-01.
      • These extramural expenditures are the expenditures on R&D that is performed abroad but financed by domestic institutions.
    • India spent 0.7% of its GDP on R&D in 2017-18, While the same among other developing BRICS countries was Brazil 1.3%, Russian Federation 1.1%, China 2.1% and South Africa 0.8%.
  • Researchers and scientific publications:
    • The number of researchers per million populations has doubled since 2000.
    • India occupies 3rd rank in terms of number of Ph.D awarded in Science and Engineering (S&E) after USA and China.
    • India is placed 3rd among countries in scientific publication as per NSF database.
  • Patent filing:
    • India is ranked at 9th position in terms of Resident Patent Filing activity in the world.
      • During 2017-18 out of total patents filed in India, 32% patents were filed by Indian residents.
      • Patent applications filed in India are dominated by disciplines like Mechanical, Chemical, Computer/Electronics, and Communication.
  • According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), India’s Patent Office stands at the 7th position among the top 10 Patent Filing Offices in the world.

National Science and Technology Management Information

  • The National Science and Technology Management Information System (NSTMIS) is a division of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • It has been entrusted with the task of building the information base on a continuous basis on resources devoted to scientific and technological activities for policy planning in the country.
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GS-III :
African swine fever: Assam told to go for culling

African swine fever: Assam told to go for culling

Part of: GS-III- S&T (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Disease first reported in November-December from areas of China bordering Arunachal. Assam Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister said the Centre has advised the State government to go for the culling of pigs affected by the African swine fever (ASF).  “After a lab in Bhopal attributed the death of thousands of pigs to the first-ever case of ASF in the country, we have been told to cull the animals in the affected areas,”. “We have been told to divide the affected areas into zones and go for culling accordingly. The situation is quite serious since there are many farmers with more than 20 lakh pigs.”

 

African swine fever (ASF)

According to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report ASFhas caused the deaths of more than 3.7 million pigs across a vast swathe of Asia, primarily in its east and south-east, where pork is the primary meat staple.

What is African swine fever?

  • Historically, outbreaks have been reported in Africa and parts of Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. More recently (since 2007) the disease has been reported in multiple countries across Africa, Asia and Europe, in both domestic and wild pigs.
  • African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease (severe illness, sometimes associated with bleeding), of domestic and wild pigs.
  • It is caused by a large DNA virus of the Asfarviridaefamily, which also infects ticks of the genus 
  • Although signs of ASF and classical swine fever (CSF) may be similar, the ASF virus is unrelated to the CSF virus.

Transmission and spread:

  • The epidemiology of ASF is complex and varies depending on the environment, types of pig production systems, the presence/absence of competent tick vectors, human behaviour, and the presence/absence of wild pigs.
  • Direct contact with infected domestic or wild pigs: This transboundary animal disease (TAD) can be spread by live or dead pigs, domestic or wild, and pork products.
  • Indirect contact, through ingestion of contaminated material (e.g. food waste, feed, or garbage).Contaminated fomites, or biological vectors (soft ticks of the genus Ornithodoros) where present.

Clinical signs of ASF:

  • Acute formsof ASF are characterised by high fever, depression, anorexia and loss of appetite, haemorrhages in the skin (redness of skin on ears, abdomen and legs), abortion in pregnant sows, cyanosis, vomiting, diarrhoea and death within 6-13 days (or up to 20 days).Mortality rates may be as high as 100%.
  • Different types of pig may have varying susceptibility to ASF virus infection. African wild suids may be infected without showing clinical signs allowing them to act as reservoirs.

Public health risk:

  • ASF is not a risk to human health as it is relatively harmless.

Prevention and control:

  • Currently there is no approved vaccine for ASF.
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GS-III : Economic Issues
Open Budget Survey 2019

Open Budget Survey 2019

Part of: GS-III-Economy (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Recently, the International Budget Partnership (IBP) has released an Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2019. The survey evaluates each country on the basis of the availability of key budget documents of the Central or Federal Government, and assesses whether these are made public, in a timely manner, and provide comprehensive information.

Open Budget Survey

  • The Open Budget Survey is part of the International Budget Partnership's Open Budget Initiative, a global research and advocacy program to promote public access to budget information and the adoption of accountable budget systems.
  • It is a biennial survey.
  • The survey covers 117 countries.
  • It rates the level of budget transparency across countries on a scale of 0-100, based on several normative, internationally comparable indicators.

Findings

  • Global Scenario:
    • Improvement in Overall Score: OBS 2019 finds a modest global improvement in budget transparency, which is consistent with the overall trend measured by the survey over the past years.
    • Global Avg. Transparency Score: The global average transparency score has turned out to be 45 out of 100 and thus levels of publicly available budget information remains limited.
    • Top Scorers: New Zealand tops the chart with a score of 87.
      • Further, South Africa (87), Mexico (82) and Brazil (81) are among the top six countries providing extensive information to the public for scrutiny.
    • Citizens’ Participation: The citizens’ participation in the budget process continued to be at a dismal level and thus average global scores on the OBS participation measure remains 14 out of 100.
    • Publication of Audit and Legislative Reports: Only 30 of the 117 surveyed countries have adequate scores both for audit and for legislative oversight.
  • Indian Scenario:
    • India's Global Ranking: India has been placed at 53rd position among 117 nations in terms of budget transparency and accountability.
    • Transparency Score: India's Union Budget process has a transparency score of 49 out of 100, which is higher than the global average of 45.
      • Some of the other large developing countries, with the exception of China, have got much higher transparency scores compared to India.
    • Citizens’ Participation: The public participation in its budgets has been flagged as an area of improvement required for India.
    • Publication of Audit Reports: India performs well in publishing timely and relevant information in the audit reports and in-year reports and has scored well and above many other countries.
    • Publication of Pre-Budget Statement: The absence of a published Pre-Budget Statement and not bringing out a Mid-Year Review in 2018-19 pulled down the transparency score for the Union Budget of India.

Way Forward

  • While many governments and citizens have embraced the open budgeting agenda, more efforts to translate good intentions into better practice are required.
  • A global effort of joint, sustained activism is needed to accelerate progress and deliver the promises of open budgeting to all citizens.

International Budget Partnership

  • The International Budget Partnership (IBP) is a collaborative effort of multiple actors – including civil society, state actors, international institutions and the private sector.
  • IBP was formed in 1997 to promote transparent and inclusive government budget processes as a means to improve governance and service delivery in the developing world.
  • It intends to bring citizens participation in open, inclusive budgeting processes to shape policies and practices that promote equity and justice on a sustainable basis.
    • IBP’s focus on citizens and civil society organizations (CSOs) was driven by the pioneering civil society budget monitoring efforts in a small number of middle-income countries in the early 1990s.
  • IBP’s ultimate aim is to ensure that public resources are used more effectively to fight poverty and promote equitable and sustainable development in countries around the world.
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GS-III :
Bru crisis and their displacement to Tripura

Context:

2 community groups in Tripura have opposed the resettlement of Brus from Mizoram to Tripura.

A joint team of the Nagarik Suraksha Mancha, mostly representing Bengali people displaced from the erstwhile East Pakistan post partition in 1947 .

Northern Tripura has a sizeable Mizo population concentrated in the subdivision’s Jampui Hill area.

Who are Brus?

  • The Brus spread across Tripura, Mizoram and parts of southern Assam--are the most populous tribe in Tripura.
  • In Mizoram, they are scattered in Kolasib, Lunglei and Mamit districts. While many Brus of Assam and Tripura are Hindu, the Brus of Mizoram converted to Christianity over the years.
  • Bru tribals from Mizoram, living as refugees in Tripura since 1997, were allowed to permanently settle in Tripura.
  • The agreement, allowing 30,000 Bru tribals to permanently settle in Tripura, took 20 years and nine attempts in the making, and was signed between the Centre, the state governments of Tripura and Mizoram, and Bru-Reang representatives .
  • Also known as Reangs in the state, they are ethnically different from the Mizos, with their own distinct language and dialect and form one of the 21 scheduled tribes of Tripura.
  • While Mizoram has as many as 40,000 Brus living in the state, in Tripura, their numbers stand at approximately 32,000, spread across six refugee camps in the state.

Brus conflict with Mizos

  • Clashes in 1995 with the majority Mizos led to the demand for the removal of the Brus, perceived to be non-indigenous, from Mizoram’s electoral rolls. This led to an armed movement by Bru National Liberation Front, which killed a Mizo forest official in October 1997. The retaliatory ethnic violence saw more than 40,000 Brus fleeing to adjoining Tripura where they took shelter in six relief camps.
  • In 1997, roughly half the Bru population fled to Tripura, following violent clashes with the Mizo population, which led to the Brus’ demand for an Autonomous District Council (ADC), under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution, in western Mizoram, where they were the more dominant lot, outnumbering the ethnic Mizo population.
  • The Brus began demanding relief on a par with the relief given to Kashmiri Pandits and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.
  • The union home ministry started a round of talks with the state governments of Mizoram and Tripura to legitimize the 30,000-odd refugees.
  • In November, Bru refugees blocked a stretch in North Tripura for 12 hours, demanding the Centre restore their food and cash benefits even as repatriation efforts continued.
  • the union home ministry finally inked the tripartite pact which now paves the way for these displaced Bru tribals from Mizoram to permanently settle in Tripura.

Resettlement package for Brus

  • The package covered 32,876 members of 5,407 Bru families.
  • The package includes:
  • one-time assistance of ?4 lakh as fixed deposit within a month of repatriation
  • monthly cash assistance of ?5,000 through DBT
  • free rations for two years
  • ?1.5 lakh in three instalments as house-building assistance.
  • The package also included Eklavya residential schools, permanent residential and ST certificates besides funds to the Mizoram government for improving security in Bru resettlement areas.

 

 

 

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GS-III :
Mission Demo-2 

Mission Demo-2 

Part of: GS-III- S&T Space (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and SpaceX are all set for the Demo-2 mission who is scheduled for 27th May, 2020 from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. Demo-2 Mission will send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Imp Points

  • Under the Mission, astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will dock with ISS and then remain there for between one to four months, depending on the time of next mission.
  • It is a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is a partnership to develop and fly human space transportation systems.
  • SpaceX spacecraft named Crew Dragon will be used to take them into space. It will be only the fifth class of US spacecraft to take human beings into orbit, after the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.
  • It is a high priority mission for the US which is clear by the fact that the mission is being carried out amidst Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The mission is a major milestone for SpaceX, which is a private company founded by Elon Musk, who is the founder of Tesla.
    • It has established itself as the leader in the private space sector mainly due to its reusable rocket, the Falcon 9.
  • NASA classifies the impact of space flight on humans in 5 broad criteria known as 5 Hazards. These are: (PT)
    • Radiation
    • Isolation and confinement
    • Distance from Earth
    • Gravity
    • Hostile/closed environments
  • Health Specific Impacts:
    • Weightlessness and osteoporosis
    • Telomeres get longer during spaceflight
    • Decreased body mass and increased folate in orbit
    • Spaceflight can Trigger Gene Mutations

Project Mercury (1958-63)

  • It was the first US man-in-space program.
  • The objectives of the program, which made six manned flights from 1961 to 1963, were specific:
    • To orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth.
    • To investigate man's ability to function in space.
    • To recover both man and spacecraft safely.

Gemini Program (1962-66)

  • Designed as a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs, it primarily tested equipment and mission procedures and trained astronauts and ground crews for future Apollo missions.
  • Four main goals:
    • To test an astronaut's ability to fly long-duration missions (up to two weeks in space).
    • To understand how spacecraft could meet and dock in orbit around the Earth and the moon.
    • To perfect re-entry and landing methods.
    • To further understand the effects of longer space flights on astronauts.

Apollo Program (1963-72)

  • It was designed to land humans on the Moon and bring them safely back to Earth. These missions returned with scientific data and almost 400 kilograms of lunar samples.
  • Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to go to the moon. This mission did not land on the moon. It orbited the moon, and then came back to Earth.
  • Apollo 11 was the first moon landing mission. It landed on 20th July, 1969. The crew of Apollo 11 was Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.

Space Shuttle Program (1981-2011)

  • NASA's space shuttle fleet, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, flew 135 missions and helped construct the ISS.
  • The spacecraft carried people into orbit repeatedly, launched, recovered and repaired satellites, conducted cutting-edge research and built the largest structure in space.
  • The final space shuttle mission, STS-135, ended on 21st July, 2011.
  • As humanity's first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle pushed the boundaries of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced technologies but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce.

Indian Human Space Flight Programme:

ISRO aims to launch its maiden Human Space Mission, Gaganyaan before the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in 2022.

Objectives of the Mission:

  • Enhancement of science and technology levels in the country
  • A national project involving several institutes, academia and industry
  • Improvement of industrial growth
  • Inspiring youth
  • Development of technology for social benefits
  • Improving international collaboration

Relevance of a Manned Space Mission for India:

Boost to industries: The Indian industry will find large opportunities through participation in the highly demanding Space missions. Gaganyaan Mission is expected will source nearly 60% of its equipment from the Indian private sector.

Employment: According to the ISRO chief, the Gaganyaan mission would create 15,000 new employment opportunities, 13,000 of them in private industry and the space organisation would need an additional manpower of 900.

Technological development: Human Space flights are frontier field in the science and technology. The challenges the Human Space Flights provide to India, and the benefits accruing from taking up those missions will be very high and will lead to further thrust for technological developments in India

Spurs research and development: It will boost good research and technology development. With a large number of researchers with proper equipment involved, HSF will thrust significant research in areas such as materials processing, astro-biology, resources mining, planetary chemistry, planetary orbital calculus and many other areas

Motivation: Human space flight will provide that inspiration to the youth and also the national public mainstream. It would inspire young generation into notable achievements and enable them to play their legitimate role in challenging future activities

PrestigeIndia will be the fourth country to launch human space mission. The Gaganyaan will not only bring about prestige to the nation but also establish India’s role as a key player in the space industry.

 

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Foreign Currency Assets (FCA)

Foreign Currency Assets (FCA)

FCAs are assets that are valued based on a currency other than the country's own currency. FCA is the largest component of the forex reserve. It is expressed in dollar terms. The FCAs include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US units like the euro, pound and yen held in the foreign exchange reserves.

Special drawing rights (SDR)

  • The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves.
  • The SDR is neither a currency nor a claim on the IMF. Rather, it is a potential claim on the freely usable currencies of IMF members. SDRs can be exchanged for these currencies.
  • The value of the SDR is calculated from a weighted basket of major currencies, including the U.S. dollar, the euro, Japanese yen, Chinese yuan, and British pound.
  • The interest rate on SDRs or (SDRi) is the interest paid to members on their SDR holdings.

Reserve Position in the International Monetary Fund

  • A reserve tranche position implies a portion of the required quota of currency each member country must provide to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that can be utilized for its own purposes.
  • The reserve tranche is basically an emergency account that IMF members can access at any time without agreeing to conditions or paying a service fee.
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GS-I : Art and Culture
Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur Pooram

For the first time since its inception, Thrissur Pooram will be observed with rituals within the temple premises with just a few participants. This was done in the wake of the lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Thrissur Pooram is an annual Hindu festival held in Kerala. It is celebrated on the day when the star sign “Pooram” occurs in the Malayalam month of “medam (April-May)”.

  • The festival was the brainchild of Raja Rama Varma, famously known as Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of Cochin (1790–1805).
  • Pooram officially begins with Kodiyettam (flag hoisting ceremony) in which all the participating temples of the festival are present.
  • The Pooram consists of ten temples in and around Thrissur and is considered to be a ceremony where these deities come together to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva at the Vadakkunnathan Temple, located in the centre of the town.
  • One of the hallmarks of the festival is the percussion ensemble consisting of traditional instruments like chenda, maddalam, edakka, thimila and kombu.
  • The seventh day of the pooram is the last day. It is also known as “Pakal Pooram”.
  • Pooram, though a Hindu ritual, has grown to encompass all religious and cultural strains of Kerala. Both the Muslim and Christian communities participate in the festival in a variety of ways highlighting secular credentials of the state.

 

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GS-II :
BRICS

BRICS

Part of: GS-II- International organisation (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The BRICS Leaders’ Summit is convened annually.

Salient Features

Together, BRICS accounts for about 40% of the world’s population and about 30% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), making it a critical economic engine. It’s an emerging investment market and global power bloc.

Structure

  • BRICS does not exist in form of organization, but it is an annual summit between the supreme leaders of five nations.
  • The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.

History

  • The acronym "BRICS" was initially formulated in 2001 by economist Jim O'Neill, of Goldman Sachs, in a report on growth prospects for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China – which together represented a significant share of the world's production and population.
  • In 2006, the four countries initiated a regular informal diplomatic coordination, with annual meetings of Foreign Ministers at the margins of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). This successful interaction led to the decision that the dialogue was to be carried out at the level of Heads of State and Government in annual Summits.

Timeline

  • The first BRIC Summit took place in 2009 in the Russian Federation and focused on issues such as reform of the global financial architecture.
  • South Africa was invited to join BRIC in December 2010, after which the group adopted the acronym BRICS. South Africa subsequently attended the Third BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, in March 2011.

Objectives

  • The BRICS seeks to deepen, broaden and intensify cooperation within the grouping and among the individual countries for more sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial development.
  • BRICS takes into consideration each member’s growth, development and poverty objectives to ensure relations are built on the respective country’s economic strengths and to avoid competition where possible.
  • BRICS is emerging as a new and promising political-diplomatic entity with diverse objectives, far beyond the original objective of reforming global financial institutions.

Areas of Cooperation

1. Economic Cooperation

  • There are rapidly growing trade and investment flows between BRICS countries as well as economic cooperation activities across a range of sectors.
  • Agreements have been concluded in the areas of Economic and Trade Cooperation; Innovation Cooperation, Customs Cooperation; strategic cooperation between the BRICS Business Council , Contingent Reserve Agreement and the New Development Bank.
  • These agreements contribute to realisation of the shared objectives of deepening economic cooperation and fostering integrated trade and investment markets.

2. People-to-People exchange

  • BRICS members have recognised the need for strengthening People-to-People exchanges and to foster closer cooperation in the areas of culture, sport, education, film and youth.
  • People-to-People exchanges seek to forge new friendships; deepen relations and mutual understanding between BRICS peoples in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness, diversity and mutual learning.
  • Such People to people exchanges include the Young Diplomats Forum, Parliamentarian Forum, Trade Union Forum, Civil BRICS as well as the Media Forum.

3. Political and Security Cooperation

  • BRICS member political and security cooperation is aimed at achieving peace, security, development and cooperation for a more equitable and fair world.
  • BRICS provides opportunities for sharing policy advice and exchanges of best practices in terms of domestic and regional challenges as well as advancing the restructuring of the global political architecture so that it is more balanced, resting on the pillar of multilateralism.
  • BRICS is utilised as a driver for South Africa’s foreign policy priorities including the pursuit of the African Agenda and South-South Cooperation.

4. Cooperation Mechanism

Cooperation among members is achieved through:

  • Track I: Formal diplomatic engagement between the national governments.
  • Track II: Engagement through government-affiliated institutions, e.g. state-owned enterprises and business councils.
  • Track III: Civil society and People-to-People engagement.

Impacts of BRICS on global institutional reforms

  • The main reason for co-operation to start among the BRICs nation was the financial crises of 2008. The crises raised doubts over sustainability of the dollar-dominated monetary system.
  • The BRICs called for the “the reform of multilateral institutions in order that they reflect the structural changes in the world economy and the increasingly central role that emerging markets now play”.
  • BRICs managed to push for institutional reform which led to International Monetary Fund (IMF) quota reform in 2010. Thus the financial crises had momentarily reduced western legitimacy and briefly let the BRICs countries become “agenda setters” in multilateral institutions.

New Development Bank

  • NDB is headquartered in Shanghai.
  • At the Fourth BRICS Summit in New Delhi (2012) the possibility of setting up a new Development Bank was considered to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies, as well as in developing countries.
  • During the Sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza (2014) the leaders signed the Agreement establishing the New Development Bank (NDB).
  • Fortaleza Declaration stressed that the NDB will strengthen cooperation among BRICS and will supplement the efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global development thus contributing to sustainable and balanced growth.
  • NDB’s key areas of operation are clean energy, transport infrastructure, irrigation, sustainable urban development and economic cooperation among the member countries.
  • The NDB functions on a consultative mechanism among the BRICS members with all the member countries possessing equal rights.

Contingent Reserve Arrangement

  • Considering the increasing instances of global financial crisis, BRICS nations signed BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) in 2014 as part of Fortaleza Declaration at Sixth BRICS summit.
  • The BRICS CRA aims to provide short-term liquidity support to the members through currency swaps to help mitigating BOP crisis situation and further strengthen financial stability.
  • The initial total committed resources of the CRA shall be one hundred billion dollars of the United States of America (USD 100 billion).
  • It would also contribute to strengthening the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements (IMF).

Challenges

  • The marked dominance of big three Russia-China-India is challenge for the BRICS as it moves ahead. To become a true representative of large emerging markets across the world, BRICS must become pan-continental. Its membership must include more countries from other regions and continents.
  • The BRICS will need to expand its agenda for increasing its relevance in the global order. As of now, climate change and development finance, aimed at building infrastructure dominate agenda.
  • As BRICS moves forward foundational principles of BRICS i.e. respect for sovereign equality and pluralism in global governance are liable to be tested as the five member countries pursue their own national agendas.
  • The military standoff between India and China on the Doklam plateau, which has effectively brought to an end the naive notion that a comfortable political relationship is always possible amongst the BRICS members.
  • China’s efforts to co-opt nation states, which are integral to its Belt and Road Initiative, into a broader political arrangement has potential to cause conflict among BRICS members especially China and India.

Importance for India

  • India can benefit from collective strength of BRICS by way of consultation and cooperation on economic issues of mutual interests, as well as topical global issues, such as, international terrorism, climate change, food and energy security, reforms of global governance institutions, etc.
  • India remains engaged with the other BRICS countries on its NSG membership.
  • The NDB will help India to raise and avail resources for their infrastructure and sustainable development projects. The NDB has approved its first set of loans, which included a loan of US$ 250 million in respect of India for Multitranche Financing Facility for Renewable Energy Financing Scheme’.

Way Forward

  • BRICS did well in its first decade to identify issues of common interests and to create platforms to address these issues.
  • For BRICS to remain relevant over the next decade, each of its members must make a realistic assessment of the initiative's opportunities and inherent limitations.
  • BRICS nations need to recalibrate their approach and to recommit to their founding ethos. BRICS must reaffirm their commitment to a multi-polar world that allows for sovereign equality and democratic decision making by doing so can they address the asymmetry of power within the group and in global governance generally.
  • They must build on the success of the NDB and invest in additional BRICS institutions. It will be useful for BRICS to develop an institutional research wing, along the lines of the OECD, offering solutions which are better suited to the developing world.
  • BRICS should consider a BRICS-led effort to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change and the UN's sustainable development goals. This could include e.g. setting up a BRICS energy alliance and an energy policy institution.
  • NDB in partnership with other development finance institutions could be a potent vehicle to finance progress towards the sustainable development goals amongst the BRICS members.
  • Idea of setting up a BRICS Credit Rating Agency (BCRA) as proposed by India, opposed to Western agencies like Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s etc can be on BRICS future agenda.
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