OPINION | An Event Summary on "BRICS- Evolution from Acronym to Global Power"
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OPINION | An Event Summary on "BRICS- Evolution from Acronym to Global Power"

By Sanna Bedi

The Russia Centre of Science and Culture (RCSC) jointly with the BRICS International Forum (BRICS-IF) in India had organized a three-day international conference titled "BRICS – Evolution from Acronym to Global Power" which started on January 27, 2016 in the framework of the BRICS Summit, held in Ufa in July 2015. 

With the participation of 70 delegates, representing the member states of the BRICS grouping, the conference is a curtain-raiser as India takes on the Presidency of BRICS from February 15, 2016. Various youth organizations like Global Youth, World Organization of Students & Youth, Yuva Kranti and the Nehru Yuva Kendra showed willingness to partner with BRICS International Forum and promote BRICS awareness and activities among the youth.

The three days at the conference, have allowed us to gain a better understanding about the current global scenario, and the present position of the BRICS countries. As the Guest of Honor, Mr. Nandan Unnikrishnan (Vice President, Observer Research Foundation) has illustrated during the event, far from criticisms, BRICS has grown with time and is in fact a successful bloc. I would therefore like to reiterate that by extending my unequivocal belief that the BRICS forum has been able to present converging stances at international forum and their future is promising.

Recalling aspects of cooperation from the 7th BRICS Summit, we are aware that the members have arrived at a consensus to collaborate in areas of technology and space science, as well as defence strategies. The "Visa-Free Travel" policy idea has been spearheaded by President Putin, but may be applied to all BRICS nations by keeping respective bilateral agreements in consideration. The ideas of the common-patent pool and creating an agricultural seed bank have also been mentioned.

All the above are common goals for boosting the economies and development trajectories of the member states. I am hopeful that under India’s Presidency throughout 2016, we will see an actualization of these goals.

An area that is of concern to all member states is climate change and sustainable development. As already known, collectively, the five countries were responsible for nearly 40% of the global greenhouse gas emissions as of 2010. This necessitates the need for the BRICS to become key actors in improving the international climate. BRICS countries have the necessary skills and resources to make renewable and energy efficiency technology affordable and accessible to all. Prime Minister Modi has already stated the need for the first New Development Bank project to be Green.

Besides that however, I would like to shed light on the youth perspective. I believe it is important to highlight that the BRICS are endowed with approximately 45% for the world’s youth. Young people are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future. But they can transform the future only if they have skills, health, decision-making, and path-breaking opportunities available to them.

This potential of the human resource for economic gains would be realized through a "demographic dividend", which occurs when a county's working age population is larger than the dependent population. In order to maximize this dividend, countries must ensure that their young, working-age populations are equipped to seize opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurial possibilities. With the right policies and investments in human capital, countries can empower young people to drive economic and social development and boost per-capita incomes.

Therefore educational projects and mechanisms for skills enhancement such as vocational training centers should become a priority for future collaborations in order to harness the potential of the available human resource. This would imply developing innovative methods for employment generation. Emphasis also needs to be given to workfare as well as technical and professional training. Development and investment in youth projects would eventually provide the necessary flip to the BRICS economies.

An important aspect to consider here is that of the fact that India is expected to be the world’s youngest nation by 2020, followed by Brazil and South Africa. However, China and Russia both have aging populations. Therefore, given the higher dependency ratio, Russia and China, would require a more sophisticated skill development programme that focuses on enhancing efficiency. Hence, collaborating in this space will be mutually beneficial.

As we already have this rich network that has been made available through the BRICS International Forum, I am certain that it is time to further exploit the available resources to maximize our potentials and expand our horizons. In order to develop a bottom-up approach, we need to deepen the means of communicating with one another at the youth level and create opportunities for ourselves. After learning about the establishment of councils such as the BRICS think-tank engagement, we must utilize such opportunities and engage with these types of platforms through online and off-line sessions, explore internship opportunities and part take in exchange programmes.

Through this article, I would like to congratulate all the delegates and participants for sharing their valuable inputs during the event and for having taken the first steps of initiating youth dialogue and debate. It would be opportune to carve a way forward by enhancing these engagements to be able to influence policy at the national and international level.

This event summary was presented by the author at the International Conference on "BRICS- Evolution from Acronym to Global Power", organized by the BRICS International Forum, January 29, 2015, New Delhi.

About The Author:

Sanna Bedi working at Ending Violence Against Women Unit, UN Women MCO for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka. She is also associated with Global Youth, New Delhi, India and IndraStra Global, New York in various capacities.