A junior of mine at the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi, was constantly trolled by batchmates for citing the BRICs report in her presentation to the batch to the extent that it even found a mention in the yearbook. Back then, South Africa was yet to be the next brick in the BRIC and hence the ‘s’ only stood for plural usage. But, maybe, she was 18 years ahead of her time because that plural ‘s’ has a whole new series of bricks being added to the original BRIC. (Yes, puns are the sole reason I signed up for this assignment).
Management consultants and investment bankers often come up with fancy terms to sell whatever idea catches their fancy. When the term BRIC was coined by Jim O’Neill at Goldman Sachs, he had no idea the term would even survive these many years much less morph into a grouping that now sounds like a political spin-off of the web series 13 Reasons Why.
The term BRIC (to denote Brazil, Russia, India, China) was coined by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs (above)Wikimedia Commons
As per news, the latest countries invited to join the BRICS World Cup are Ethiopia, Saudia Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Iran and Argentina. Argentina looks like an odd-man-out in this grouping. You’d think they’ve just been added in the hopes that other countries can poach Lionel Messi in exchange. Ironically, it was a Saudi fan who was asking the world “where’s Messi?” after their shock win over Argentina. Even more ironical is at a time when the world is claiming BRICS will be the new reserve currency, Argentina’s own people are asking their own currency “Where is the US dollar?
The original grouping was Brazil, Russia, India and China. It made perfect sense of course, before China clashed with India, Russia clashed with everybody and Brazil clashed with its own economy. In the new grouping, we have Iran and Saudi Arabia together -- in what sounds like a setup to a joke by a Middle Eastern standup comedian. All we need to do is add Israel into the mix and this could well be the sequel to You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. And it is Xi Jinping who fancies himself as Adam Sandler.
India and China co-operating on a currency union is like hoping a north and south Indian love marriage will be wholesomely welcomed by parents on both sides. Chetan Bhagat’s 2 States gave us enough indication what a marriage of 13 states will look like. You might be wondering “Oh, but you haven’t spoken much about South Africa”. Perhaps that has been the problem. No one speaks much about South Africa or its spiralling crime rate. But a coup in Niger gives comfort that things could have been even worse.
Some analysts have likened BRICS to the new ‘Bandung’ in a hark back to the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in the Indonesian province in 1955. But the expanded grouping is so clearly aligned towards Chinese interests, that perhaps these analysts need to look at it with non-aligned blinkers.
Some op-eds say India should be wary of this expanded grouping and promises of even more new bricks being added. Because as the saying goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but BRICS may hurt forever”.
The author, Vikram Poddar, is a Marwari investment banker turned corporate comedian. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.