Peoples movements should advance an alternative vision for BRICS
A panel discussion organised on 5 October in New Delhi under the banner of Peoples Forum on BRICS underlined the importance of peoples' movements from across the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries coming together not only to challenge neo-liberal projects of BRICS but also to collectively articulate an alternate vision for the grouping. The panel is part of a series of events in Delhi and Goa in the run-up to a larger people’s assembly in Porvorim, Goa from 13-14 October, just before the official BRICS heads of state summit from 15-16 October. The two day gathering at the Xavier Centre of Historical Research will see the participation of alliances such as the National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM), National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), trade unions such as All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC-Goa), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU-Goa), New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) and networks such as the Goa based Women’s collective Bailancho Saad. 88 organisations from across India and outside have endorsed the call for the Peoples Forum in Goa and more than 500 people are expected to attend various seminars and cultural events.
Panelists expressed concern over the resource exploitative, carbon intensive development trajectories of the BRICS countries, which have replicated imperialist tendencies in their neighborhoods and deepened the structural inequalities in their societies. Senior journalist Sukumar Muralidharan said the BRICS so far has had a mixed record and there is increasing scepticism about it since these countries are very diverse, at different stages of development, and have differing geopolitical interests.
Maren Mantovani from Stop the Wall Campaign (Palestine) underlined that the Palestine issue is an opportunity for BRICS to show political coherence, and that they can play a key role in supporting a more stable, peaceful, and just political order in West Asia. Gerardo Vega from the Federal Rural University, (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) said that the coup against President Dilma in Brazil is a manifestation of elite resentment against greater labour rights and the shift in Brazil towards a more equitable society. Fatima Shabodien, a feminist activist from South Africa, reiterated that the BRICS is too important a political project to be driven by governments alone. She pointed out the need for collectively building alternative narratives to counter those of the mainstream corporate media. The BRICS should formulate mechanisms to hold each other accountable, she said in the context of massive resource grabs in Africa. Speaking on China, Atul Bhardwaj from Institute of Chinese Studies said that western hegemony can either be challenged ideologically or pragmatically through its pillars, the strength of the US dollar ( as a reserve currency) and dominance of international oceans; China’s Belt-Road initiative is an attempt to do the latter. Gautam Mody of the New Trade Union Initiative added that although the BRICS countries do not have a political common, they were instrumental in their own ways to shaping the 20th century. Mody said that building international solidarity in the 21st century will not be easy but movements not only in the BRICS countries, but beyond as well must work towards a people’s alternative.
The Peoples Forum reiterates that given the current multiple crises of economy and ecology, the BRICS should play a role in building counter hegemonic narratives and changing the world order to make it more just, democratic and equitable. Given its track record so far, it is clear that BRICS Governments are not up to the task, therefore the need for pressure from below and imagination of people’s movements for building alternatives – local, national and global.
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