PROSPECT Journal is collaborating with China Focus, a blog focusing China’s role in the world and U.S.-China relations. As part of this collaboration, PROSPECT will be intermittently publishing articles by the China Focus bloggers. Our journal is excited to bring a wider range of expert analysis of Chinese politics, economics and culture to our readers.

By Amrita Jash
Contributing Writer

Multilateralism has become the new behavioral response of the international system. Global leaders have joined the nexus to create ‘absolute gains for all’ over the ‘relative gains of a zero-sum game.’ This mode of diplomacy has become the new jargon of international politics- whereby the mantra is that of “all for one and one for all.” The emerging Asian powers- India and China, have taken a proactive multilateral approach to widen their spheres of power and influence. In this marathon for great power status, BRICS has emerged as the new locus for jockeying for power between India and China.

With its first summit in Yekaterinburg-Russia in June 2009, BRICS as an association of the five major emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has successively surfaced as an alternative for the rising economies against the western-dominated economic order. During the 6th BRICS Summit held in Fortaleza, Brazil from July 15th-16th of this year, the regional forum called for the creation of a $100 billion BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) and a BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) – an emergency reserve fund of over $100 billion. This is a tremendous step in reshaping the western-controlled international financial system, currently dominated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The BRICS bank aims to provide funding for infrastructure projects in developing countries with its headquarters in Shanghai and is to be headed by India. The Contingent Reserve will act as an emergency economic cushion for the BRICS countries when met with a financial debacle.

In this configuration of the NDB, where China gets the headquarters and India gets the command, the question that needs immediate deliberation is who takes the lead in this initiative? While India gets the first presidency of the bank for a term of six years, followed by Brazil and Russia for the successive terms of five years each, China is left with technically no command for almost two decades. This unparalleled hierarchy creates discord in the organization’s power politics. The NDB was likely designed this way in a deliberated attempt by the second-tier BRICS countries to keep China’s ambitions at bay.

With this change in BRICS power dynamics, the competition between India and China is taking a new form. This new level of complexity is the result of parallel aspirations of these two rising Asian giants. Although India will lead the initial shaping of the BRICS economic pillars in its role as head of the BRICS bank, it is likely to be more challenging for India to prove its mettle in the presence of China as the world’s second largest economy. China has already set several norms in global politics, where as India is just now emerging as a geopolitical trendsetter. There are wider concerns that an ambitious and powerful China might try to maneuver the norms of the NDB to expand its own political and economic clout. Thus, the NDB could be called the new “game of thrones” between India and China. India and China are the biggest beneficiaries of this development project as both are the largest rapidly emerging economies, and both are embroiled in high-stakes games to ascend through the international order.

Though India has been a pioneer in other regional networks such as NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) and SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation), BRICS offers a new kind of multilateral dynamic for India. Although India holds a commanding position, it must still take a pragmatic approach. BRICS provides India and China an equitable platform; however, the power disparity between them remains a big challenge. In this vein, the new BRICS framework with the NDB adds an unknown dimension to India-China relations. The full impact of BRICS will only be visible in time. However, based on their parallel ambitions to gain power and influence on the global stage, with certainty, BRICS is the new platform of power projection between India and China.

Image by Blog do Planalto



By Michelle Bulterys
Senior Editor

This past summer I was fortunate enough to conduct medical-anthropological research in the HaMakuya Village in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. During my stay, I spent the majority of my time playing soccer and learning the traditional dance from the wonderful children of the community. The following photos depict a few faces of the many children that had such an incredible impact on my life. They are captioned by quotes which were said in Venda (the local language) at the time the pictures were taken.


“Mpo! (Gift)”

The child in the picture is named Mpo, which means “Gift” in TshiVenda. He is six years old and dreams of being a professional photographer. Mpo is also the name I was given by my host mother upon arriving in HaMakuya Village. I earned the name by chasing a chicken and serving it to the family for dinner.


“I dani (Follow me)”

Her name is Blessing, and she is only two years old. She is the sassiest girl I have ever met. She became very bored as her father, my host father, gave me a tour of his traditional healing garden. The garden had a myriad of flowers, barks, roots and leaves that each had a healing purpose (for example, chewing Tenu bark has the ability to make you become irresistible to your spouse). Blessing tugged on my shirt repeating, “i dani,” meaning, “follow me”. She guided me to a dead wild cat, which had been trapped overnight. Her father explained that he uses the jaw to hang as a necklace on his children when they sleep to prevent them from grinding their teeth.


“Ndi A Awela (Sit down)”

Whatever Blessing wanted, she got. The five of us children had stepped just 20 feet out of our home on the way to the watering hole before Blessing pulled an empty tin from the wheel-barrow and instructed all of us to sit. She always hated the four-mile trek to retrieve water every day. I quickly learned that she loved the trek if she got to sit in the wheel-barrow while I pushed her and made car sounds. I grew very strong arm muscles.


Zwino (This moment)”

I looked into Tati’s eyes and asked her, “When are you really happy?” Her response was “zwino,” meaning “this moment,” or “right now”. I took a picture for us both to remember the moment, and developed it for her when I went into town one day. I was one of the few foreigners to have ever come to the village. I helped her with her schoolwork at night, and in exchange she taught me how to skin mpani worms and make fire with sticks.


“Ndi Ani Funa (I love you)”

This photo of Thanyani (age 7) and Zembe (age 8) was taken just after our soccer team won a game on my last day in the village. They had become my brothers, and on that day would always say “Ndi ani funa” to me, which I later found out meant, “I love you”. The soccer field in HaMakuya Village was slanted and had three trees in the middle, and was where we spent the majority of our days.


Soccer Match in South Africa

By Param Bhatter
Staff Writer

Could soccer be the most popular sport in the world? With the FIFA World Cup approaching, and all of the drama and excitement that it entails, soccer fans all over the world are getting more and more anxious with anticipation for the summer. As perhaps the one sport that is played and watched by all, from any culture, the world stage that soccer employs is perhaps the greatest of any sport. Soccer also happens to be perhaps one of the most democratic sports in the world, with every player, regardless of position, contributing equally to the team and having the ability to score. With over 1 billion people watching the world cup, nobody can deny the power of soccer and its ability to unify people all over the world.

But soccer is no longer just a sport. With such a global presence, soccer is now being utilized as a vehicle for addressing health issues around the world. Used as a tool to help break customary values and longstanding traditions, soccer is promoting HIV awareness in many separate parts of Africa.

In the Nkomazi district of South Africa, medical workers believe that 65 percent of people in the adolescent and young adult age group carry HIV. In this culture, HIV is extremely frowned upon and disregarded, and denial is often the easiest solution for victims of the condition. People who admit to having the disease are often ridiculed by their family and friends and considered outcasts.

In the last five years however, there has been an increase in the awareness of the virus, the options for treatment, and information passed on concerning how to limit its transmission, all accomplished through the sport of soccer. Spearheaded by former Stanford assistant coach, Sarah Noftsinger, the initiative has established a soccer league that runs in over five villages with over 2,500 participants and 160 teams that promote the spread of knowledge of HIV and AIDS. In the league, players receive instruction from trained coaches about topics such as HIV, domestic violence and self-confidence. Players are offered incentives such as nicer jerseys and uniforms for attending these sessions, as well as subjecting themselves to HIV testing after games to make sure they stay in prime athletic condition.

Similar to Noftsinger’s efforts in South Africa, another organization that has now started making tremendous strides towards linking soccer with HIV and AIDS education is Grassroot Soccer. Founded by a small group of French professional soccer players, this project has developed an interactive curriculum that promotes soccer-themed HIV prevention through a so-called “Skillz Curriculum.” By conducting small drills on the soccer field that relate to HIV, the program appeals to many youth who love the sport and can benefit more from the education than from traditional classroom learning. For example, participants set up a bunch of cones that each represent a certain HIV related risk. If a player hits a cone while dribbling, each teammates must do pushups or run, showing how one’s personal mistake affects the rest of the family and community. Coaches are there to help raise awareness regarding all the issues accompanied by HIV, in addition to supporting their team, testing the players regularly, and of course helping them improve their soccer ability.

Many evaluations, conducted by universities such as Stanford and Johns Hopkins have shown that Grassroots is having a positive impact on knowledge and social stigmas related to HIV. Behavioral studies have shown that Grassroot program graduates were nearly six times less likely to engage in activities that could lead to the transmission of HIV. Grassroot has now expanded its programs into several countries in Africa such as Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania, and the group is hoping to take their mission and success story to other continents as well.

With the variety of cultures, ideals and traditions in the world that differ from region to region, philanthropists, doctors and leaders often find it difficult to promote wellness and change stigmas that already exists regarding healthcare. Sports are an underlying aspect of society found in every culture, making them a perfect vehicle for change and reform. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and is now just beginning to be utilized to benefit society in ways besides competition and entertainment. The potential that it possesses to change the world is endless, and we are only now starting to exploit it.

For anyone who would like to get involved, feel free to check out Grassroot’s website and see what you can do today!

Image by digitalrob70