BRICS will replace dysfunctional UN – Indian journalist

India or Bharat? Who wants to change the name of the country and what for?

Pravda.Ru special correspondent Daria Aslamova conducted a series of interviews with prominent public figures during her trip to India. In an interview with a veteran of Indian journalism Venkat Narayan, we talked about the new prospects that India and Russia are facing in the world that is changing before our very eyes.

Hello, Mr. Narayan. In this interview we would like to talk about India's current relations with Russia and BRICS. In two years we are going to celebrate two years of BRICS. This is a serious age for an organisation. What has India achieved as a result of its BRICS membership?

BRICS is an ambitious institution. We have Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa was added, five more countries were added too. Argentina was admitted but then pulled out after the new president came in. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that 13 other countries also wanted to join BRICS. This is a remarkable development indeed. People in different parts of the world believe that the United Nations is West-oriented, while the Global South and Africa are disregarded despite the fact that these regions are facing a lot of problems. BRICS has enabled India to increase interaction with other member countries. India has very good relations with other BRICS members. These 13 countries that want to join BRICS they believe that the bloc will be able to produce some results that other global organisations have not been able to do.

So do you think that the United Nations is not that good in comparison with BRICS?

The UN has not changed since the end of WWII. Such a large country as India does not have a seat at the UN Security Council. This Council is still governed by the rules that were introduced after the end of WWII. France, Britain, the United States, Russia, China. Britain and France as members of the UN Security Council were very powerful when the UN came to its existence. I don't think they are that powerful anymore. At the same time, India today leaves the UK behind in terms of the GDP. India is the world's fifth largest economy, we are on the way to become world's third largest economy. India's population today s 1.4 billion people, which means that every fifth human being in the world is Indian. How can you have the UN Security Council when one-fifth of the human race — India — has no representation in it? This is ridiculous. The UN has not been able to deliver the results that it is supposed to deliver. It has not been able to stop any wars recently — the wars in Ukraine and Gaza continue. As Prime Minister Modi said, these wars are not similar to the Iraq war — one can solve these conflicts through negotiations. Putin and Zelensky have not been able to get together to find a peaceful solution, so we do not know how long this is going to last. All these problems that we can see in the world today are still here primarily because of the inability of the United Nations and the existing world order, which is dominated by the West, to resolve these problems. I would like to see the UN Security Council expanding and including India in order for this body to be able to have some impact on global politics.

Russia, one of the founders of BRICS is now living under most strongest sanctions in history. How can BRICS work in this situation?

It's a challenge. India continues having a good relationship with Russia. We buy a lot of oil from Russia. We have an ambition to increase our GDP by 8-10 percent every year. It is only in this case when we can improve the situation with poverty in India. The Western countries are very critical of India because India is buying Russian oil. They say that India thus supports Russia in its fight against Ukraine. However, this is not true to fact. India has bought oil from Russia worth about $30 billion in the last two years, but the payment problem has not been sorted yet. In fact, this money has not left India. The West can not stop India from pursuing its national interests. We need oil to keep this country going. It is impossible to achieve growth without oil. There is also the logistics problem. Russia can not use the routes its has used before the Ukraine crisis. We are facing a lot of difficulties indeed, but in spite of that, India is able to buy oil from Russia to keep its economy going.

Russia has accumulated a lot of Indian rupees and we can not convert them, because the Indian currency is not convertible. When BRICS started, there was a common dream to get rid of the dollar peg, to be able to pay each other normally, without the need to resort to the US dollar. India wants to pay to Russia in rupees, but Russia can not do anything with this money, which is very inconvenient, of course.

The Indian rupees can be accepted as a currency in about 20 countries at the moment. We have a lot of products that Russia can import from India. The trade deficit is more than $35 billion in Russia's favour.

Last year, the trade turnover was nearly $60 billion, and India's export to Russia amounted to $3.3 billion.

This is nothing indeed. We have to find out a way to clear the money that has been accumulated in India from Russian oil procurements. I think our governments are trying to find the solution. Russia could consider importing Indian food, I think Russia already buys bananas and papayas.

Russia can buy bananas and papayas from many other countries. Isn't there anything else that India can offer, anything unique?

It's pharmaceuticals, tea, sugar and other food products that India makes.

Yet, Russia has a very good agricultural industry, we have our own food. We are not very interested in buying food from India. India has good automobiles, pharmaceuticals, IT technology, but that seems to be it. What is the problem? The Russian government welcomes Indian businesses and invites for cooperation, but Indian businesses fear sanctions.

They have to do something about it now. India produces electric vehicles now, we are going to launch the production of semiconductors soon too. By and large, we have to find new ways of settling this debt we owe to the Russians — 30-40 billion dollars, which is a lot of money, of course. I am sure the governments of Russia and India are trying to find a way. President Putin invited Prime Minister Modi to visit Russia, and Modi also invited Putin to come to India. Last time when Putin was in India was in 2021. They are in touch with each other. The Friendship between Russia and India, as well as between Putin and Modi is a subject of envy and jealousy in the West. They do not have the same kind of relationship with Russia and Putin. Putin got his fifth term as President. The West has to find ways of dealing with Putin because he is now staying in power before 2030. We do not know what is going to happen in the US, whether Trump is going to come to power again or not. If he does, we do not know hoe it is going to affect USA's relations with Russia and the rest of the world. The Prime Minister of Hungary said once that if Trump takes office as President of the United States again, he is not spending a penny on funding the war in Ukraine.

Many in the world expect India to repeat China's industrial success. This is doubtful, because India and China are two completely different systems. India is a democracy and China is a one-party rule. Yet, China makes decisions quickly, they do not speak a lot — they just go and act. The Chinese are much more pragmatic. I also have doubts about India's capability to become a state similar to China, an industrial superpower, because your democracy is your problem.

India is a democracy, the government is answerable to the parliament. In China, whatever Xi Jinping decides becomes a law. Nobody can challenge him, but we can do it in India. India as a democracy is limited in terms of the things that China can do. China has one party, but India has about 400-500 political parties. India is having elections this year in April and May, and more than one billion people are going to cast their votes. Many expect Mr. Modi and his party to stay in power for the third consecutive term. If Putin and Modi are in power as before, the relationship between Russia and India is only going to strengthen. It's not that simple for India to achieve the level of development of China. However, many companies have been moving their productions from China to India and Vietnam lately. This has not been happening on a very large scale, but the Indian government is inviting Western companies to come to India to make India an exporting state. This is what Modi's government is trying to pursue in their policy, and he may take some measures to speed up this process after elections. We are also improving our infrastructure — railways and airports and so on. We have not seen this development since India became independent in 1947. Therefore, I am sure that a lot of American and European companies will consider opening their facilities in India to make the country a major industrial hub for many products, including semiconductors.

However, globalists do not want to repeat their mistake that they made with China. They were connived that they would be able to use China to their own advantage, but as we can see it is China that is using them now. Do you think the collective West let India become a new superpower?

What is a superpower? It's a country with a huge economy and huge armed forces, infrastructure and manufacturing facilities. I have visited China four times and traveled only once to Russia. My most recent visit was before Covid. The infrastructural development in China is simply unbelievable. It will take India many more years to catch up with China. Some people say it may take up to 30 years to achieve the growth that China has today. I don't know if that is going to happen. Our government and our people have been trying very hard to take India forward. The results are visible, but they are not as dramatic as they are in China. China has a lot of problems of its own. People go on strikes there and so on. There's only tension between China, the US and the EU. As a result, many American and European companies are pulling out from China and shift to India. The Indian government can only welcome that. India's pace of development is not that impressive as that of China, but India has all chances to catch up with China in the next ten years or so. Today, India is the world's fastest developing economy. China's growth has slowed down, because it is impossible for a huge economy like that to maintain the pace for a long period of time. Yet, I am convinced that India will become an industrial hub that will be producing a lot of products that the West needs. If you come to India in ten years, it will be a different country.

India is now in the process of changing its name to Bharat. It used to be for internal use, but you now use it internationally. It appears that India wants to change its name because it is associated with British colonisation. We can read in world media that India is developing its new Bharat ideology. What does it mean?

Bharat is the name by which this country has been known for centuries. When the British came, they started calling its India. The Constitution of India says in the very first line: "India that is Bharat…" The first ruler of India was a person called Bharat. This name goes down to the history that is 7,000 years old. The modern government started using this name at the G20, then our ex foreign minister wrote a book called "Why Bharat matters?" Yet, there is no debate going on in relation to this. The Indian government has not said anything about Bharat being the only legitimate name of India now. Perhaps another reason is that opposition parties founded a coalition called INDIA. It is maybe for this reason that the ruling party — Bharat — decided to proceed like that in response. Yet, everybody knows India as India for centuries, especially outside the country. I don't think this is going to change. Bharat is just an original name. India is one of the oldest surviving civilisations. I don't think they are going to change the Constitution because of that. It's just both names will survive for ages to come.

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Author`s name Daria Aslamova
Editor Dmitry Sudakov