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'IBSA grouping now has strong competition from BRICS'

Posted on Dec 05, 10:34PM | IANS

IBSA, the India-Brazil-South Africa trilateral initiative, faces strong competition from the BRICS grouping, a former Indian envoy said Wednesday.

"IBSA has a mixed record (of success). One should recognise that it now has strong competition from BRICS," said Rajiv Bhatia, director general of the Indian Council of World Affairs referring to the newer grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).

Established in June 2003, IBSA is a coordinating mechanism among three emerging, multi-ethnic and multicultural democracies to promote South-South cooperation and exchange towards construction of a new international architecture, and bring their voice together on global issues.

Speaking at a seminar here on "Perspective on Rising Democracies", organised by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative ahead of the IBSA summit in India in March 2013, Bhatia said critics of the trilateral initiative felt that there had been more talk rather than actual deliverables emerging out of IBSA.

"A trilateral trade agreement is still being discussed and yet to be realised," Bhatia said.

There is an IBSA Fund for supporting viable projects in the least developed countries (LDCs), where each of the IBSA countries currently contributes USD 1 million per year.

Bhatia asked why this members' contribution had not been increased after nearly a decade, pointing out that India had given USD 2 million assistance to Afghanistan this year alone.

Suggesting ways to empower IBSA, Bhatia said IBSA should enhance the "people's quotient" in IBSA through greater people-to-people relationships, that is one of the pillars of IBSA.

There are six separate IBSA fora for business, women, parliamentarians, academics, editors and local government, and Bhatia said these needed to be deepened and enhanced for IBSA to live up to its promise as an innovation in transnational democracy.