DEMOCRATIC BRICS and development Essay

Pages: 13 (4083 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Political Science

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Income disparity, economic diversity, public health, and access to education are factors that need to be considered when revising the global balance of power. Brazil and India have been described as "well-institutionalized" democracies, but both have problems with corruption and inequality (Armijo, 2007, p. 8). China's problems include geopolitical rivalries, high levels of pollution, and high levels of corruption. The greater degree of political similarities between the three countries known as the "democratic BRICS" render them as being potentially more influential in general throughout the global south than either China or Russia, despite the relatively strong political and economic power wielded by those latter two. Long-term stability requires public confidence in governmental institutions, and "sustainable development of emerging economies cannot be achieved without political stability, and popular confidence in political institutions is vital to the stability of a regime," (Peng Lu, 2014, p. 437). Therefore, the democratic BRICS can become viable models of democracy if they conscientiously shift their domestic policies and politics towards promoting gender, social, and economic equality.

The Role of Foreign Policy

Brazil, like many other Latin American nations, remains noninterventionist in its foreign policy. India, on the other hand, possesses nuclear weapons and has border disputes with Pakistan, another nuclear-armed nation. The current Modi government is somewhat friendly to BRICS, and yet continues to view China as more a roval and competitor than as a collaborator in competing against the G7 (Meacham, Cooke, Rossow & Studdart, 2015). South Africa, the newest member of BRICS, and one of its democratic entities, has been called an odd choice for several reasons, one of which is its relatively small GDP and population size. As Meacham, Cooke, Rossow & Studdart (2015) point out, South Africa is "not exactly poised to become a driver of global economic growth," and Nigeria should have been the African selection. Nevertheless, South Africa is a part of BRICS, perhaps due to its promising infrastructure and financial services sector, which are deemed mature and "relatively sophisticated," (Meacham, Cooke, Rossow & Studdart, 2015, p. 88). The democratic BRICS are not as powerful economically without China, but each of the democratic BRICS demonstrates different attitudes and relationships with China as well as toward Russia. None of the democratic BRICS have evolved any sort of voting bloc that allows them to utilize their emerging political power, even regionally. Their future role as leader in the global south depends on their willingness to come up with mutual solutions that can at once undermine the hegemony of the transnational elite and the hegemony of Russia and China, both of which abuse their relative power by intervening in ways that inhibit, not promote, democracy and social justice. Syria is the prime example, but China's tacit enabling of North Korea and its incursions in the South China sea are comparable.

China and India remain the most robust economies in the BRICS conglomerate. All of the BRICS countries have strong industrial sectors, which is one of the reasons why their coalition is both feasible and formidable. Moreover, all of the BRICS nations participate to varying degrees in the neoliberal global economy but all BRICS also have "large areas of the economy that operate informally and outside the reach of regulators and tax collectors," (Armijo, 2007, p. 8). The latter may need to be corrected if BRICS is to compete with the G7. China is instrumental for the success of BRICS, regardless of its form of government. It is by far the most powerful nation of BRICS in terms of wealth; "China alone accounts for more than 70% of the combined GDP growth generated by the BRIC countries from 1999 to 2010," (Peng Lu, 2014, p. 437). China is both supplier and market for other BRICS nations in addition to the role it plays in the G20. In fact, China is Brazil's largest trading partner and "is among China's largest destinations for foreign direct investment," (Meacham, Cooke, Rossow & Studdart, 2015, p. 88). Brazil barely trades at all with Russia or India. South Africa, while not unfriendly towards China, has reservations about selling out its economic viability to what could be considered a bully state. China's provision of low-cost goods to a nation that has been isolated from access to global marketplaces due to apartheid has shifted attitudes toward China in South Africa.

The current BRICS format is relatively loose and offers non-binding options for member states. This means not only that their respective domestic policies can remain in accordance with the political culture and goals of their nations, but also that each nation is free to pursue whatever agreements it wants with other parties as well. BRICS meetings are summit style, aimed at locating points of cooperation and convergence rather than on hashing out differences. Still, domestic pressure on their governments for social justice, access to healthcare and education, income parity, or pollution reduction is bound to become more of an issue for all of the BRICS nations, and their form of government will determine their responses to public pressures and grassroots movements. China and Russia are poorly positioned to handle major domestic upheavals and domestic upheavals are unlikely to occur in any of the democratic BRICS. The reason the democratic BRICS need to become role models for the global south is that they offer a more long-term plan for growth and development, rooted not just in economic power as per China's model, or in geopolitical power as per Russia's model. The democratic BRICS ideally function as role models for stimulating social justice.

Brazil and South Africa, more than India, "have strong domestic political opposition standing for the defense of international human rights," (Viola, 2015, p. 389). Their tacit or even explicit support of human rights might eventually prove to be a source of conflict between them and China and could also endear Brazil and South Africa to the United States and the EU. Democratic forms of government are obviously the starting point for engaging in critical discourse internationally related to human rights promotion around the world. Unfortunately, the democratic BRICS lack the position or status to become leaders with the possible exception of Brazil. India's human rights problems are rampant, related to gender and income disparity, and South Africa still reels from apartheid. Thankfully, the latter's inclusion in BRICS holds South Africa to a higher standard and draws attention to the tremendous progress than has been made in achieving racial parity through emerging black entrepreneurship and the black middle class. Yet South Africa, like Brazil, is not a military power and therefore lacks the potential for developing a broader sphere of influence in the global south (Carducci & Bruno, 2015). The process of democratic contagion throughout the global south does not necessarily depend on there being a military or "hard power" model like the United States, yet as it stands now BRICS is too loose a coalition to develop the kind of cultural capital needed to create the bleed-through needed to do more than just build wealth.

Their cultural spheres of influence remain local, which could prove efficacious to the democratic BRICS. For example, there is no real need for Brazil to become an influencer of Angola but there is a need for South Africa and perhaps also Nigeria to become a role model for democratic reform in sub-Saharan Africa. India can become a role model for Bangladesh and Pakistan, Russia to Uzbekistan. The BRICS trading partners can still be halfway around the world, but their sphere of political influence may be more effective when localized. Democratic institutions need to be culturally relevant as well as feasible within the existing framework. Because of their heterogeneity, the democratic BRICS can offer the global south the cornerstones for universality in human rights: exhibiting the tenets of social justice that transcend differences in culture and politics. If development as a concept is broadened beyond its purely economic model, represented in part by the outmoded, neoliberal, and hegemonic institutions like the World Bank, then development must also include a commitment to social justice. State sponsorship of economic development needs to be stable but not necessarily democratic; democracy is, however, critical for the emergence of genuine development of ethics and social justice.

Poverty, unemployment, lack of access to education and healthcare, and gender inequity are core development goals. Sharma (2015) adds that the abolition of feudal or colonial land tenure programs, access to loans, access to information in a free media, and assurance of clean air and drinking water should also be goals for the global south that have not yet been fully realized by the democratic BRICS. In the future, the democratic BRICS need to focus as much if not more on these sociological and social justice goals as on economic goals. The neoliberal model continues to perpetuate inequality by focusing more on how governmental institutions and structures can facilitate trans-national trade. A new model for empowerment in the global south demands more from governmental institutions, requiring that governments are accountable to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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