BRICS Expansion and Its Implications for Nepal-India Relations

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The recent BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, captured international attention with its announcement of the bloc’s expansion, marking the first time since 2010 when South Africa became a member. While much analysis has centered on the potential consequences for major players like China, Russia, and Brazil, it’s crucial to explore how this expansion could influence the dynamics of Nepal-India relations and the broader South Asian region.

BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has emerged as a significant platform for cooperation among emerging economies. With the addition of new members – including Iran, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – BRICS is undergoing a transformation that could bring about both challenges and opportunities for Nepal and India.

Implications for India-Nepal Relations

Nepal and India share deep historical, cultural, and economic ties, making the impact of BRICS expansion particularly relevant to the region. The addition of countries from the Middle East to BRICS introduces new dynamics that could influence energy and trade interests, areas of strategic importance for both Nepal and India.

Nepal’s implementation of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant, which includes infrastructure projects such as road construction and a new electricity transmission line, aligns with the nation’s development priorities. As Nepal advances its infrastructure, enhanced connectivity with India becomes even more crucial, fostering economic integration and people-to-people exchanges.

Geostrategic Considerations

China’s participation in BRICS, along with its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), raises questions about how the expansion could influence the region’s geopolitical landscape. India, while striving for balanced relations with global powers, must carefully navigate the evolving dynamics to safeguard its interests. As BRICS potentially welcomes more members in the future, India’s historical role as a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement could play a vital role in shaping the bloc’s orientation.

Energy and Economic Cooperation

Given Nepal’s significant hydropower potential, the nation’s energy resources align with India’s growing energy demands. Both countries can benefit from enhanced collaboration within the BRICS framework to develop energy infrastructure, promote sustainable energy sources, and address energy security concerns. The MCC grant’s focus on electricity transmission aligns with these objectives, providing opportunities for closer energy cooperation between Nepal and India.

Promoting Multipolarity and South-South Cooperation

The expansion of BRICS emphasizes the concept of multipolarity, which aligns with India’s foreign policy priorities. The bloc’s promotion of South-South cooperation resonates with Nepal’s aspirations for inclusive development and regional integration. By engaging within BRICS, Nepal and India can collaborate to amplify the voices of emerging economies and jointly address global challenges such as climate change, sustainable development, and poverty eradication.

Conclusion

BRICS expansion carries both potential benefits and challenges for Nepal and India. While concerns about a possible anti-Western stance may arise, the inclusion of Middle Eastern countries opens avenues for energy cooperation and economic integration. As Nepal implements the MCC grant and strengthens its ties with India, the two nations can explore opportunities within the broader BRICS framework to enhance their regional influence and contribute to the bloc’s objectives of multipolarity and South-South cooperation. Strategic engagement in BRICS can pave the way for Nepal and India to collaborate on shared priorities and contribute to the advancement of the global south.

 By Ananda Chaudhary