An end to Doklam standoff saved Chinese President Xi Jinping from an embarrassing face-to-face meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Xiamen. Soon after the two leaders met on Monday (for the first time since the standoff) during the plenary session of BRICS (an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit, the visiting Indian premier sent a message of peace to the global community.
Speaking at the session in the south-eastern port city of China, Modi said that it was important for nations to co-operate and co-ordinate with others in order to ensure peace and development. According to Modi, it will be difficult to ensure economic development in the absence of peace.
Interestingly, the Indian premier received a positive response from the grouping, as the Xiamen BRICS declaration condemned terrorism in all forms. In what may be seen as a diplomatic breakthrough, the declaration (in a rare first) named Pakistan-based terror outfits Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) and Haqqani Network. Although China had consistently blocked India’s attempt to get the UN to sanction Jaish supremo Maulana Masood Azhar, the references to JeM and Lashkar in the declaration amount to a setback to China’s all-weather ally Pakistan as the previous BRICS outcome document at Goa had omitted naming the terror groups. According to defence experts, (now) Beijing is likely to ask Islamabad to rein in terror groups.
On the first day of the three-day summit, the prime minister informed other members of the grouping that India has taken a number of steps to protect the environment, apart from making serious efforts to eradicate poverty. He once again urged the BRICS nations to work together on solar energy, saying: “BRICS countries can work closely with International Solar Alliance (ISA) to strengthen the solar energy agenda.” As far as poverty eradication is concerned, the Indian premier said: “We are in mission-mode to eradicate poverty and to ensure health, sanitation, skills, food security, gender equality, energy and education.” In the presence of Chinese, Russian, Brazilian and South African leaders, he explained how the ‘Clean India’ (or ‘Swachh Bharat’) drive is contributing to India’s economic development.
Meanwhile, Modi thanked the BRICS Bank for utilising funds for the growth of the BRICS nations. “NDB has started disbursing loans in pursuit to mobilise sources of infrastructure and sustainable development in BRICS countries,” he told the audience. “Our Central Banks must further strengthen their capabilities and promote co-operation between the Contingent Reserve Arrangement and the IMF,” said Modi.
He did not forget to pitch for BRICS credit rating agency. “Last year, we discussed pooling our efforts to create a BRICS rating agency. An Expert Group has since been studying the viability of such an agency. I would urge that the roadmap for its creation should be finalised at the earliest,” insisted the Indian premier.
It is to be noted that India had first mooted the idea of having such an agency for the BRICS grouping. New Delhi expressed hope that the proposed agency could solve impediments for the emerging market economies posed by the present CRA market that is currently dominated by S&P, Moody’s and Fitch.
Prime Minister Modi, who arrived in China for the BRICS Summit on Sunday evening, is scheduled to hold talks with the Chinese president on Tuesday on the sidelines of the event. The BRICS nations are considered as key players in the world economy, with the five countries accounting for 23% of the global economy (in 2016). In the last decade, they contributed more than half of global economic growth.