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BRICS summit raises hopes (2)

(China Daily)

15:29, March 22, 2013

Other meetings creating atmospherics for the summit include the Maritime Trade Forum on March 24 followed by the Economic Forum the next day and a meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers and BRICS Business Forum on March 26.

Durban recently hosted a seminar on defense that underlined the potential of defense cooperation. In the run-up to the Durban summit, South African defense delegations have visited Brazil, Russia and India. Russia - even South Africa - has important defense relations with China and India. But as Georgy Toloraya, executive director of Russia's National Committee for BRICS Studies, says, BRICS is not going to be a military bloc but an "alliance of civilizations" and as an "intellectual project for formulating new rules of global co-existence".

The 2013 Human Development Report, titled "The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World", alludes how "the rise of the South is unprecedented in its speed and scale" and how "the South as a whole is driving global economic growth and societal change for the first time in centuries". So the BRICS summit will deliberate on issues of human development and innovative strategies that the South can use.

Indian, Chinese and Russian engineers have been flooding the Silicon Valley, but the ratings of BRICS' educational institutions remain low compared with Western universities. BRICS' researchers and scholars rely on publications in Western journals and magazines, and Western fellowships and awards to prove their worth. Setting up a BRICS evaluation mechanism would increase the exchange of students and scholars among the five countries. India already has about 10,000 students studying in China and wishes to revive its once substantial student community in Russia. Likewise, other BRICS member states could send their students to India's transforming and booming education sector.

BRICS member states have been showing increasing interest in political issues in the developing world. Syrian envoys, for example, recently visited the BRICS member states and have formally appealed to the BRICS leaders to play an active role to end the bloodshed in Syria, which has already claimed more than 70,000 lives. There is unanimity among BRICS that the Syrian crisis should be resolved peacefully and through dialogue, which could find mention in the eThekwini Declaration.

The author is a professor of international studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

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