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How BRICS hopes to set the agenda for change driven by the Global South

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has departed for South Africa to participate in the BRICS summit, with a clear-eyed goal of reforming international institutions in a manner that would reflect the rising aspirations of the Global South.

In his departure statement PM Modi made it plain that he saw the emerging economy grouping of Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) as a platform for “discussing and deliberating on issues of concern for the entire Global South.”

These included the development challenges confronting the Global South as well as reform of the multilateral system, implying expansion of the UN Security Council that will also represent the Global South. Within the BRICS, India, Brazil, and South Africa have been demanding a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. The BRICS countries are also part of the G-20, which will meet in New Delhi early next month. PM Modi has already declared that the G-20 should focus on the Global South during the New Delhi summit.

During his stay the Prime Minister will hold bilateral meetings with some of the Leaders present in Johannesburg. There has been considerable speculation that PM Modi will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, signalling a possible thaw in India-China ties which have been hit on account of military tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. Military commanders from India and China have been holding marathon talks over military disengagement along some of the friction points along the contested border ahead of the BRICS summit.

PM Modi said that the BRICS summit will review the grouping’s institutional development. So far, the BRICS have setup the Shanghai based New Development Bank (NDB)—a multilateral lender for the emerging economies.

In tune with the global movement to empower women, a business delegation is heading to Johannesburg to participate in the BRICS Women Business Alliance and the BRICS Business Forum. The delegation will also participate in the meetings of the BRICS Business Council.

With focus on Africa during the summit, the Prime Minister will also participate in BRICS–Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue event. PM Modi has already called for the permanent participation of the African Union (AU), a 55-nation grouping from Africa, in the G-20.

Ahead of the summit, some of the world’s top oil producing countries– Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE have sought membership of the BRI. If their application as accepted, an expanded BRICS will dominate the world energy order, with Russia, a top oil producer already a part of the grouping.