Civil Society Groups to hold People’s Forum on BRICS in October 2021
New Delhi, September 10:
The 13th BRICS Summit, chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by Brazil President Jair Bolsanaro, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping was held in a virtual format yesterday. While the summit’s focus was on the pandemic, multilaterliam and counter terrorism, activists state that the summit was exclusionary, failing to address complex issues facing the world today and BRICS countries.
As a response to the official summit which failed in living upto the principles of people’s issues and their participation, the People’s Forum on BRICS is organising a week-long online people’s summit, to discuss the concerns and challenges facing the BRICS nations and its people in October, 2021.
Amid the raging pandemic wrecking havoc to the lives and livelihoods of millions, the summit did not address the systemic failures of the healthcare systems across countries. A transparent and scientific process to understand further mutation of the virus to fight it was not mooted at the summit.
Activists stated that the official summit process has completely sidelined the people and their concerns. Madhuresh Kumar, National Convener of National Alliance for People’s Movements, India said; “In these times of climate and health crisis what we need is true people to people interaction and solidarity and genuine efforts at solving the world’s problems. BRICS countries together account for a significant mass of humanity and at this historical juncture unfortunately narrow politics is taking precedence over people’s lives and their democratic aspirations.”
As healthcare systems collapsed, economies took a huge hit too, barring China, every other BRICS country has gone into the negative terrain of growth. The pace of recovery remains sluggish, although BRICS decided to strengthen its collective efforts to address the economic and financial slide. The absence of a concrete action plan has once again questioned if the original mandate of BRICS to challenge the western dominion of finance would actually be realizable.
Patrick Bond, scholar-activist based in Johannesburg said, “Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro favoured the restrictive World Trade Organisation rules protecting Big Pharma and intellectual property, Russia’s Sputnik vaccine profit potential left Vladimir Putin quiet. As a bloc, the BRICS did not offer formal support to South Africa and India’s bid to waive intellectual property, and the supposed BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre announced at the 2018 summit in Johannesburg remains a myth.”
The process of Civil BRICS has also been a complete sham. Priti Darooka from the BRICS Feminist watch pointed out failures in engaging with the civil society. She stated, “India as the host this year for the BRICS Summit had the opportunity as the largest democracy to expand and build Civil BRICS as a platform for a true, meaningful and engaged participation of civil society — people to people — from BRICS. Unfortunately, Civil BRICS this year was a total disappointment. Firstly, it was the best kept secret that no one knew about. And secondly, it was shrunk to a panel with only a couple of civil society representatives from just one country and totally coordinated by the government.”
Responding to the official Summit Patrick Bond, said, “These BRICS are ‘spalling,’ which as any builder fears, signals that the masonry is deteriorating and chunks are falling off a wall. We’re in a time the world desperately needs a strong front against Western imperial powers, especially to combat the climate catastrophe and COVID-19 vaccine apartheid. There were no emissions-cut announcements and of the 7000 words, only a handful addressed the world’s most serious crisis: climate catastrophe.”
The People’s forum is being jointly organised by Trade Unions and Civil Society Organisations. In 2016, the People’s Forum on BRICS took place in Goa prior to the official summit and was attended by more than 700 people, including activists from various BRICS countries. There were similar peoples’ forum parallel to the official BRICS Summit in Durban in 2013, Fortaleza in 2014, Hong Kong in 2017, Johannesburg in 2018 and Brasília in 2019.
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Anuradha Munshi: +919792411555