Fresh lease of life for IBSA

New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) The India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) grouping seems to have got a fresh lease of life with the launch of a fellowship programme by an Indian think-tank with support from the Ministry of External Affairs.

Research and Information System (RIS) for Developing Countries, chaired by former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, launched the IBSA Visiting Fellowship Programme here on Monday that will have two scholars each from Brazil and South Africa conducting research in India for three-to-six months. But at the same time, RIS has received a host of applications from Indian scholars as well. A committee that has been set up by RIS will select the scholars.

The IBSA Dialogue Forum brings together three large pluralistic, multicultural and multiracial societies from three continents as a purely South-South grouping of like-minded countries. IBSA was formalised and launched through the adoption of the “Brasilia Declaration” in June 2003.

Though five IBSA summits have been held till date, the last one was held way back in 2011 in South Africa. Now, India is set to host the next summit in 2017.

At the launch of the fellowship programme, Preeti Saran, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said IBSA brings together three like-minded countries that were committed to inclusive and sustainable development in pursuit of well-being for their people and other developing economies.

“The IBSA Facility Fund for Alleviation of Poverty and Hunger, which was established in March 2004 and became operational in 2006, is funded by a contribution of $1 million annually by each of the three countries,” she stated, adding that the fund was operated by the UNDP.

She said the fund has contributed to development interventions and capacity building in several countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

“It has been widely recognised as a successful experiment of South-South cooperation,” Preeti Saran said.

As an example, she said that a rice research programme in Vietnam, where she served as Ambassador, has greatly benefited from the IBSA Fund.

“I can tell you that the amount of goodwill and appreciation that Vietnam has expressed to us for something they received as funds from South-South cooperation… from developing partners was deeply appreciated.”

Speaking on the occasion, Shyam Saran said that IBSA comprised three emerging countries which were all democracies.

“IBSA is not competing against any grouping,” he stressed.

Shyam Saran said the new fellowship programme would allow scholars from the member countries to study new challenges like the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris climate agreement signed at the end of 2015.

Ben Joubert, Deputy High Commissioner of South Africa, said the fellowship programme was a good initiative that would give scholars adequate funding for their studies.

“IBSA is a value-driven initiative between working democracies,” Joubert said.

Claudia Vieira Santos, Deputy Chief of Mission of Mexico, said: “India, Brazil and South Africa can contribute substantially to the implementation of the SDGs.”

–IANS

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