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Low-key outcome as Singh meets Xi on BRICS sidelines

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The BRICS summit in Durban last week, which brought the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa together, is best recalled for the rich visual imagery that Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked. Putin suggested that the five countries were like the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. Notwithstanding the normative vision for the developing world that was outlined by the leaders, the subtext is a logical extension of this animal metaphor.

The BRICS as a collective have inherent divergences and contradictions that outweigh their shared interests and hence the suggestion that these five disparate ‘animals’ could either harmoniously graze or fruitfully hunt together is a politico-strategic oxymoron. However, it may be averred that the BRICS contains within it an important bilateral strand that can shape the contours of the uneasy Asian and by extension global strategic environment of the next two decades: the relationship between Beijing and New Delhi.

It was significant that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a summit veteran, met with new Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Durban summit. The outcome of this first meeting was low-key with both leaders reiterating familiar positions and on occasion echoing each other.

Can BRICS evolve into a power bloc?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The fourth BRICS meeting held in New Delhi on March 29 did not end with mere rhetoric; it agreed to some substantive mutual arrangements that would promote common interests.

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