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Why in news?

The COVID-19 crisis seems to have put Russia’s Presidency of BRICS (a grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to the test.

While each BRICS country is busy fighting the pandemic in its own way, Moscow is trying to make sure that it gains from the crisis.

A study notes that the question of considering BRICS as a global governance institution has now come to the fore. It argues that COVID-19 is another stage for political rivalry that has reinforced some international disputes and conflicts with the U.S.

How well is BRICS doing?

  • BRICS looks better than other global governance institutions amidst the ongoing COVID crises.
  • There is no blame-game or pointing fingers within BRICS, rather there is only a common vision for intensifying cooperation, including in sectors like healthcare, social welfare.
  • BRICS adheres to the goals and objectives of the UN Charter and the idea of equality.
  • The BRICS grouping is often criticised for being ineffective. Many, especially in the West, predicted that it would not live long.
  • But BRICS is very much alive, has progressed on developing a common position on the most important matters of the global economy and security and also got institutionalised with the setting up of the BRICS New Development Bank in 2015.
  • However, disagreements between its members and slow progress shown on the ground when it comes to implementation of initiatives make it quite vulnerable to criticism.

How has COVID 19 Impacted BRICS?

  • The pandemic has highlighted that the five countries need to pay more attention to speeding up the practical implementation of the projects and decisions that are being agreed on.
  • BRICS countries are planning to work on an early warning mechanism for outbreaks of infection, the development of diagnostic and preventive measures for the disease, as well as joint epidemiological exercises while the New Development Bank would provide financial anti-crisis assistance to members to fight the pandemic.

What is BRICS?

  • BRICS is the international grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • This was set up as a move towards greater multi­polarity; hence the spread across three continents and both hemispheres.

Contribution to global growth 

  • In terms of GDP, China occupies the second position; India the fifth; Brazil the ninth; Russia the 11th; and South Africa the 35th.
  • In terms of growth rates, China grew at 6%; India at 4.5%, Russia 1.7%, Brazil 1.2% and South Africa 0.1%.

Achievements of BRICS

  • The main achievement of BRICS is the New Development Bank, with each country contributing equally to its equity
  • The bank has so far financed over 40 projects at a cost of $12 billion
  • The BRICS countries are also developing a joint payments mechanism to reduce foreign trade settlements in U.S. dollars
  • An offshoot of the group, dealing with climate change, is BASIC (BRICS without Russia), which met at the Spain conference in December 2019 and reiterated its support to the Paris Agreement 
February 2024