India will be hosting the BRICS summit for the first time in the country from 15-16 October 2016 and it is the talk of the town. The motorcades of Russian President President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Jacob Zuma and Brazilian President Michel Temer will be among the fleet of VIPs that will be zipping through Goa over the weekend. Prime Minster Narendra Modi welcomed the representatives of the guest nations to India for the summit and expressed hope that the summit will strengthen bilateral ties.

With so much being written about the summit in the newspapers and talked about on news channels, we bring you an explainer of what BRICS is all about.

What is BRICS?

BRICS is the acronym used for an association of five emerging national economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Initially, the group was called BRIC and comprised of 4 official members. It was only in 2010 that South Africa joined the league as the fifth member.

Why was BRICS formed?

It’s an association of all developing or newly industrialized countries formed to end reign of the West dominated world. The need of BRICS was felt to to find an alternative to World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which are majorly dominated by the United States and Europe. With Japan also being on their side, they have control over most regional development banks as well.

Thus, BRICS was formed with an aim to promote self reliability of the member countries and to end its dependance on foreign agencies. The formation of BRICS bank is a major boost in this direction.

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(Photo: PTI)

What have the BRICS nations achieved?

BRICS has been playing an important role in the global economy, but much still needs to be done. It has been going through a rough time with the economic performance of Brazil and Russia running in a ‘disappointing’ domain in the current decade.

Jim O’Neill, a former Chief Economist of Goldman Sachs who coined the acronym for BRICS, claims that with the right structural reforms, India may be able to “achieve a sustained period of Chinese-style double-digit economic growth”. He also calls China the biggest success story of BRICS. “Despite its recent slowdown, (China) has far exceeded expectations,” he quips.

What are the the barriers to BRICS?

Among the several roadblocks for BRICS, some include health threats, educational challenges and inadequate representation in global governance bodies. BRICS weakness came to the fore during the selection of a successor for Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the IMF.

The lack of time was officially cited to justify the absence of a common candidacy for the post by the BRICS. They collectively contest Western dominance in world affairs but on the other hand easily get along individually with the same West to secure a national advantage.

What to expect from BRICS 2015?

Apart from the group meetings, Chinese President Xi Jinping may meet Modi at a time when India’s relations with Pakistan have hit the lowest bottom but the China has extended Islamad a hand of support. India and Russia are also likely to sign major defense deals.

Also, Modi’s decision to invite BIMSTEC countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand) for the summit denotes India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy to its east. Playing a mediator between BRICS and BIMSTEC, India is aiming to gain influence in both.

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Recalling how the name BRICS came into existence, Jim says, “it wasn’t named so just because the letters fit together, but also because of the word’s actual meaning: these emerging economies should be the building blocks of freshly overhauled global financial and governance systems.”