New Delhi: Amid
differing perceptions, India played a crucial role in shaping the
collective stance of the BRICS countries on the need for dialogue
to resolve the festering crisis in West Asia and to push continued
regional and international cooperation in stabilising Afghanistan.
The Delhi Declaration at the end of the fourth BRICS summit of
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa Thursday supported
moderation and dialogue in resolving the Iranian nuclear standoff
and the Syrian crisis amid threats and sharp rhetoric emanating
from Western capitals.
Although there are sceptics who say the political content of BRICS
remains thin, the New Delhi summit is by far the most ambitious
one as it seeks to reinforce the economic heft of the emerging
economies with calls for greater diplomatic clout in setting the
Well informed sources said while each country has its own
interests to safeguard, India is broadly satisfied with attempts
at injecting political content on issues of immediate concern to
its security and economic wellbeing. For example, there was no
mention of Afghanistan in the earlier BRICS declarations and
limited reference to West Asia in the 2011 Sanya declaration.
On Iran, the BRICS countries collectively warned against allowing
the situation to escalate into conflict - a veiled reference to
the speculated plan by the US-Israel to target Iranian nuclear
In the restricted discussions between the leaders that preceded
the plenary session, which was open to the media, there were
intense discussions among the delegations of the five countries on
these sensitive issues, informed sources said. There were
differences of perception as well as convergence as none of the
BRICS countries wanted to openly defy the West by taking a
However, India took the lead in the discussions, with Russia and
China agreeing that any escalation of the already tense situation
in Iran will have corroding spillover effects on the global
economy triggered by the rise in oil prices.
The position on Iran is significant as it also calls for roping in
Tehran as a responsible member of the international community.
This is bound to upset the US which has been trying to isolate the
Iranian regime, Lalit Mansingh, a former foreign secretary and
envoy to the US, told IANS.
The escalation of the Iranian situation is bound to impact India,
Russia and China in different ways. India gets nearly 10-12
percent of its oil imports from Iran. China imports around 20
percent of its oil requirements from Iran. Both China and Russia
have extensive business interests in Iran.
On Syria, India feels that the larger logic behind its vote on the
UN resolution has been vindicated by the BRICS resolution which
calls for "a Syria-backed democratic transition" in that country.
Any flare-up in the Middle East will have additional complications
for India as the region is home to over six million Indians who
account for a bulk of $58 billion in remittances sent by overseas
Indians. These concerns were reflected in the BRICS position on
not letting transformation in the Middle East and North Africa as
"a pretext to delay resolution of lasting conflicts but rather as
an incentive to settle them, in particular the Arab-Israeli
Similarly, India played a proactive role in getting other BRICS
leaders to advocate continued international international
engagement in Afghanistan against the backdrop of the phased
pulldown of coalition troops in the violence-torn country. The
post-withdrawal situation in Afghanistan will also impact Russia
and China, but any instability in that country will have an
immediate bearing on India's security, said the sources.
Taking a long-range view, the BRICS leaders affirmed their
commitment to support Afghanistan's emergence as "a peaceful,
stable and democratic state, free of terrorism and extremism" and
underscored "the need for more effective regional and
international cooperation for the stabilisation of Afghanistan,
including by combating terrorism".
(Manish Chand can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)