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The Rise of BRICS Membership: Embracing Multipolarity and Dominating the Global Stage

As geopolitical shifts continue to shape the international landscape, the recent BRICS summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa, has propelled into the global spotlight, revealing growing interest from nations seeking alternatives within a multipolar world order. The BRICS, an association of five major emerging national economies which include Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has been growing in influence since its inception in 2009, despite the considerable differences in political governance amongst its members. Holding approximately 40% of the global population and now surpassing the G-7 in terms of purchasing power, the bloc is making waves in redefining economic and political paradigms. Despite criticisms highlighting the need for the bloc to demonstrate significant progress since its origin, supporters of the BRICS alliance emphatically point towards the enthusiasm shown by over 40 countries as a testament to its burgeoning influence on the world stage. There’s a unified vision among these nations to navigate away from the current US-led order, advocating for an alternative where developing nations, or the Global South, assumes a more commanding presence. Differences in opinion are present on the ground. Prominent British economist, Jim O’Neill posits, “BRICS needs to showcase more progress since its foundation in 2009.” However, contrasting views like those of Mikatekiso Kubayi from the University of South Africa counteract this argument proposing, “The enthusiasm of over 40 countries is testament enough.” Sentiments like these echo the broader conviction that the allure to BRICS is emblematic of the shifting geopolitical tides. Naledi Pandor, the South African Minister for International Relations, articulates this sentiment, beckoning nations of the Global South to entertain alternatives to the existing order. While the potential benefits of a multipolar world order are numerous, they aren’t devoid of concerns. Steven Gruzd of the South African Institute of International Affairs brings into focus the potential pitfall stating, “If nations like Iran join the BRICS, the bloc might echo stronger anti-Western sentiments.” These sentiments, if propelled by more non-democratic nations aligning with BRICS, could lead to a distinct anti-West narrative. Despite these risks, the summit also highlights exciting opportunities for financial liberation within the bloc. While it’s uncertain whether discourses on a shared BRICS currency will dominate the forum, the affiliations within the group project a discernable push to “diminish dollar dependency and encourage more trade in local currencies,” as pointed out by Gruzd. This impulse for financial sovereignty signifies a pivotal stride towards economic autonomy and reduced reliance on dollar-denominated trade. As alluded by South Africa’s Naledi Pandor, “BRICS is more than just an economic forum; it’s a stage for global leaders.” Notable figures such as Cyril Ramaphosa, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are confirmed to partake. However, Vladimir Putin’s absence from in-person participation, amid allegations from the International Criminal Court, reflects the underlying challenges the emerging power bloc has to grapple with. Thus, the BRICS summit presents an international stage for the unfolding interplay of politics, economics, and aspirations representing not just the member nations but those drawn in by the lure of an alternative global order. As the dust of the summit settles, one thing remains clear, the BRICS alliance is more vociferous than ever, representing a call for change in the global power paradigm.
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