India welcomes consensus-based approach to expand BRICS: PM

The African Union (AU) is an influential organisation consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent

August 23, 2023 05:39 pm | Updated August 24, 2023 07:03 am IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the plenary Session I of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, on August 23, 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the plenary Session I of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, on August 23, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

India welcomes the expansion of the BRICS grouping through a consensus-based approach, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Addressing the plenary session of the 15th BRICS summit in the historic South African city, the PM urged member States to take advantage of India’s digital solutions and to work for the welfare of the Global South.

Current BRICS members include Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, whose names make up the group’s acronym.

“125 countries participated in the Global South summit that we organised this January. We have proposed that the African Union should be made a member of the G-20. I am confident that all BRICS partners will support these ideas. India fully supports the idea of expansion of the membership of the BRICS and welcomes a consensus-based process,” Mr. Modi said.

Also read: Explained | Why is the BRICS summit important for India?

Global South focus

The plenary session was also attended by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the host, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, alongside other delegates.  Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in the summit virtually, with the physical leadership for the Russian delegation being provided by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. When the leaders posed together for a “family photograph”, Mr. Ramaphosa held hands with Mr. Modi and Mr. Lavrov on his left and Mr. Xi and Mr. Lula Da Silva to his right.

Continuing with India’s priorities in its G-20 presidency year, Mr. Modi kept the focus of his speech on the prospects of the Global South and the African Union, which is being represented at the BRICS summit by the east African nation of Comoros.

Also Read: PM Modi, South African President Ramaphosa discuss regional & multilateral issues of mutual interest

Strategic partners

Sources said that significant discussions took place during the Leaders’ Retreat held on Tuesday. “India took the lead in forging consensus on membership criteria and selection of new members. Our efforts were guided by our objective to incorporate our Strategic Partners as new members,” sources said.

Ahead of arriving in Johannesburg, the PM held a telephonic discussion with Iranian President Ebrahim Raesi during which both sides discussed the BRICS summit. Iran and Bangladesh are among several countries participating in a special session of the summit, as they are seeking BRICS membership. The reference to “Strategic Partners” in the leaders’ discussions indicates that New Delhi might support the membership of countries such as Iran that have a partnership with India in critical security and defence affairs.

Seeking a G-7 alternative

One of the main issues that is forming the backdrop of the expansion-related dialogue at BRICS is Russia’s quest to create an alternative to the G-7-driven global political-economic model. This has acquired urgency since the western nations unleashed economic sanctions against Moscow after Mr. Putin launched the war against Ukraine in February 2022.

This process has also drawn from India’s demand for changes in global multilateral systems to make them more responsive to the needs of the Global South. However, unlike their counterparts in Russia and China, Indian officials have not spoken aggressively for de-dollarisation, though New Delhi has entered into local currency agreements with a few trading partners like the United Arab Emirates. This indicates a difference in approach among the founding members of BRICS.

From space to big cats

Mr. Modi placed five suggestions to make the group “future ready”. He mooted the idea of a BRICS space consortium to explore outer space, and proposed that members should invest in skill mapping, technology, and education. The PM also observed that all the five BRICS member States are home to some of the world’s most endangered “big cats”. He sought cooperation in conservation, saying, “Under the International Big Cat Alliance, we can make a common effort to safeguard these big cats.”

“In the last approximately two decades, BRICS has carried out a long and glorious journey. Our new development bank is playing an important role for the development of the countries of the Global South. We have built a financial safety net through BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA),” Mr. Modi said. He considered the BRICS cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic and the joint building of digital solutions as some of the success stories of the outfit, and urged member States to take advantage of India’s diversity to create a digital partnership.

“Diversity is a very big strength of India. Solution to problems in India are tested in India’s diverse environment and that is why any solution that can cater to the Indian needs can be implemented anywhere else in the world,” the PM said, in a speech delivered in Hindi. 

Mr. Modi also reminded the plenary session that Johannesburg has an “old and deep relationship” with India, as Mahatma Gandhi had organised the nearby Tolstoy farm during his stint in South Africa.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.