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Tazir asked: What is the fundamental difference between IBSA, BRICS and BASIC?

Raviprasad Narayanan replies: There is no palpable difference in these expressions of multilateralism. They could be interpreted as multilateral ‘groupings’ striving to go beyond the straitjacket of existing institutions like the United Nations and its cabalistic attitude to international security.

IBSA is between three democracies – India, Brazil and South Africa wanting to engage in deeper economic aspects and discuss security related issues. Brazil and South Africa are recent democracies when compared to the other member – India. BRICS comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Russia is a democracy with its political spectrum anchoring around an individual. China is a socialist country, successful by implementing economic reforms that do not agree with the basic tenets of socialism/communism. BASIC includes Brazil, South Africa, India and China. These three expressions of multilateralism steer clear from articulating the softer aspects of foreign policy like refugee rights or human rights invoking the ‘sovereignty’ clause with domestic political sanctity paramount.

These three multilateral institutions also inhabit a space where the United States and the European Union have no role and hence denied sanctimonious interference. The lacunae, the three multilateral institutions are witness to is the lack of even a basic Free Trade Area. As acronyms, they have added more variables to discourse on international security without much effect and could be considered as the creation of new forums in a world where the Cold War is an anachronism. And yes, ‘acronym’ is an acronym – A Concise Reduction Of Nomenclature Yielding Mnemonics!

Dr. Raviprasad Narayanan is Associate Professor at the Centre for East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He was earlier Associate Fellow at IDSA.

Posted on May 21, 2019