Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually addressed the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit this year. Among many things he spoke, perhaps the important part was his pitch of India as a credible vaccine delivery nation amidst the ongoing Corona crisis. This was combined with his assertion on India’s recent reforms and self-reliant measures.
In previous BRICS summits as well, PM Modi has put forth a strong pitch against terrorism. In his intervention in the 12th BRICS conference he had demanded that countries supporting terrorism should be made accountable.
हमने ‘आत्मनिर्भर भारत’ अभियान के तहत एक व्यापक reform process शुरू किया है।
यह campaign इस विश्वास पर आधारित है कि एक self-reliant और resilient भारत post-COVID वैश्विक अर्थव्यवस्था के लिए force multiplier हो सकता है और global value chains में एक मजबूत योगदान दे सकता है: PM
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 17, 2020
There is a consistent narrative-building effort by India in the BRICS grouping. PM Modi pitched India at BRICS summit as the main force shaping the global issues, not only this year but year after year since 2014. Here are some highlights going down the timeline.
2014- People to People Pitch
“We must proactively move beyond being Summit-centric. We must champion Sub-national Level exchanges. Champion engagement between our States, Cities and other local bodies. BRICS should in fact, be driven by ‘People to People’ contact. Our Youth in particular must take a lead in this,” PM Modi had stated at the 2014 Summit.
In the same forum he said, “We should intensify our cooperation in confronting global challenges; like Terrorism, Cyber Security and Climate Change. BRICS must also play a proactive role in shaping the global discourse on Growth and Development. This includes shaping the post-2015 Development Agenda to keep the central focus on tackling poverty.”
2015 – Global Issues
Underscoring the need to take the issue of climate change impacts more seriously, PM Modi had said that “Climate Change is one of the major global issues, which we are facing presently. BRICS countries should establish Energy Efficiency Technologies programme to provide cheap renewable energy to the world. This is the only way to reach Clean Energy. I would like to have the first fund provided by New Development Bank, towards the Clean Energy project. It will be great if this can be done for all the five countries at one time.”
2016- A Narrative Against Terrorism
It is often cited that China is complicit with Pakistan by not condemning terror activities originated from latter’s soil. PM Modi urged BRICS members to abandon selective approach in condemning terror.
“In the world we inhabit today, security and counter-terrorism cooperation is necessary if we are to secure the lives of our citizens. Terrorism casts a long shadow on our development and economic prosperity. Its reach is now global. It has grown more lethal and adept at the use of technology.
Our response to terrorism must, therefore, be nothing less than comprehensive.
And, we need to act both individually and collectively. Selective approaches to terrorist individuals and organizations will not only be futile but also counter-productive. There must be no distinction based on artificial and self-serving grounds. Criminality should be the only basis for punitive action against the individuals and organizations responsible for carrying out terrorist acts.
Terrorist funding, their weapons supply, training and political support must be systematically cut off.”
2017- A Major Statement on Terrorism
The Xiamen BRICS Summit took place just after the withdrawal of troops by India and China at Doklam. Nevertheless, India was successful in putting forward its agenda. As we noted in our article at that point in time, India’s major success at Xiamen had indeed been to ensure that the BRICS Declaration included the mention of Pakistan-based terror outfits. Since the declaration, while expressing concern over terrorism, explicitly named Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and the Haqqani Network, along with al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist outfits, it demonstrated the tangible support gained in favour of India’s stance.
2018 – Thoughts on Digital Path
In this edition of BRICS summit that took place in South Africa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about digital opportunities as well as the challenges ahead. He highlighted the opportunities that may open up with respect to skilled jobs as technology progresses, and also spoke about the need of working together in cyber security space.
2019 – Inviting Investments
PM Modi in his speech to BRICS Business Forum pitched India among member nations as a favourable destination for investments. He said:
“India is the most open and investment friendly economy in the world due to political stability, predictable policy and business friendly reforms. By 2024, we want to make India a five trillion-dollar economy. The infrastructure alone requires USD 1.5 trillion investment.”
You may come across opinions and writings that argue about the direction of BRICS amidst India-China tensions; whether India taking part in it because of its friendship with Russia etc. But then, it is not about bilateral engagement. As the records of each summits after 2014 show, India used BRICS forum to shape a larger global narrative which is also in nation’s interests.
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