Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 8.2021
2021.02.22 — 2021.02.28
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
BRICS sherpas discuss counter-terrorism, digital health (Шерпы БРИКС обсуждают борьбу с терроризмом и цифровое здоровье) / India, February, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, cooperation

New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): The sherpas of five BRICS countries on Thursday held "productive discussions" on Indian priorities on issues such as counter-terrorism, agriculture, science, and traditional medicine, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

The discussion took place on the second day of the three-day BRICS Sherpas' meeting. BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

India kicked off its BRICS Chairship with the inaugural three-day-long Sherpas' meeting on Wednesday.

Taking to Twitter, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: "Day 2 of the BRICS Sherpas' meeting. BRICS Sherpas held productive discussions on Indian priorities on issues such as Counter-Terrorism, Agriculture, Science, Technology and Innovation and Digital Health and Traditional Medicine.""Vice President of BRICS New Development Bank, Anil Kishore, spoke of the Bank's plan of action for the year ahead. India looks forward to the fruitful conclusion of the meeting tomorrow," he further tweeted.

On February 19, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar launched India's BRICS 2021 website at the BRICS Secretariat at Sushma Swaraj Bhawan. (ANI)
India hosts First Meeting of BRICS Finance and Central Bank Deputies (В Индии проходит первая встреча представителей финансов и Центрального банка БРИКС) / India, February, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting

India hosted a Meeting of BRICS Finance and Central Bank Deputies virtually here today and was co-Chaired by Shri. Tarun Bajaj, Secretary Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and Dr. Michael Patra, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India. Other participants included BRICS Finance and Central Bank Deputies of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa.

India assumed the BRICS Chairship in 2021, at a time when BRICS is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Under the theme BRICS@15: Intra-BRICS Cooperation, India's approach is focused on strengthening collaboration through Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus.

This was the first meeting on the BRICS Financial Cooperation under India Chairship in 2021. During the meeting, India shared priorities under financial cooperation agenda and issues for discussion during 2021 such as Global Economic Outlook and Response to COVID-19, Social Infrastructure Financing and Use of Digital Technologies, New Development Bank (NDB) Activities, Fintech for SME and Financial Inclusion, BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), among others.

India Begins BRICS 2021 Chairship With 3-day-long Sherpas' Meeting; China Extends Support (Индия приступит к председательству в БРИКС в 2021 году с трехдневной встречи шерпов; Китай расширяет поддержку) / India, February, 2021
Keywords: chairmanship, top_level_meeting

India kicked off its BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Chairship with the inaugural three-day-long Sherpas' meeting, said Anurag Srivastava, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson on Wednesday. Taking to Twitter he wrote that India looks forward to continuing productive discussions with BRICS partners over the next two days.

According to the MEA release, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar launched India's BRICS 2021 website at the BRICS Secretariat at Sushma Swaraj Bhawan on February 19.

China President Xi Jinping may visit India for BRICS summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping may visit India later this year, extending the support to India in hosting this year's summit. Speaking about Xi's possible attendance at the summit and whether the LAC standoff would affect both countries multilateral cooperation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said BRICS had become an influential grouping and Beijing supported New Delhi's efforts as host.

"China attaches great importance to the BRICS mechanism," Wang said at a regular press conference on Monday. "The Chinese side supports the Indian side in hosting the meeting and is willing to work with India and other BRICS countries in expanding cooperation on economy, politics and people-to-people exchanges," Wang was quoted as saying by ANI.

Wenbin's statement comes a day after India and China 'positively appraised' the smooth completion of disengagement of frontline troops in the Pangong Lake area and agreed to continue their communication and push for a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector. According to the India-China Joint Statement, the two sides had a "candid and in-depth" exchange of views on other issues along the LAC in the Western Sector.

China Backs India on hosting BRICS 2021

On Monday, China stated that they support India for hosting the BRICS Summit 2021 and expressed interest in working with New Delhi to strengthen the cooperation among the five-member group of emerging economies of which both China and India are critical members. India assumed the BRICS chairmanship for 2021. The grouping comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and India is going to hold this year's summit.

MEA Jaishankar launches BRICS 2021 website

On February 19, India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had launched a website for BRICS, a bloc that represents over 3.6 billion people, nearly half the world's population. Taking to his official Twitter handle, Jaishankar had announced, "Glad to have launched the #BRICS2021 website. Will provide a comprehensive snapshot of our strong BRICS engagement and the exhaustive calendar of events during BRICS at 15 under the Chairmanship of India."

Reform of 'multilateral system'

MEA added, that this year, the priorities for BRICS will include reform of the multilateral system, counter-terrorism cooperation, technological and digital solutions for sustainable development goals, and enhancing people-to-people cooperation. The website, which is now LIVE, displays updated and dynamic information and useful links related to the pillars of BRICS, calendar of events, documents, and images from the previous meetings. The 13th BRICS Summit will be held under India's Chairship in 2021, and it will be the third time India will host the BRICS Summit after 2012 and 2016. The theme for India's Chairship for 2021 would be 'BRICS @ 15: Intra-BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation, and Consensus'.

(With ANI Inputs)
Support for India's hosting of BRICS summit shows China's strategic wisdom (Поддержка Индии в проведении саммита БРИКС демонстрирует стратегическую мудрость Китая) / China, February, 2021
Keywords: political_issues, summit, chairmanship

India holds the rotating chairmanship of BRICS in 2021, and the country will hold the BRICS summit in the second half of the year.

"We support India hosting this year's BRICS meetings and stand ready to work together with it and other members to strengthen communication and cooperation in various fields," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Monday. The statement has attracted the attention of the Indian media.

China's attitude shows that with the rising uncertainty in the international community, emerging countries need to look to one another for development. BRICS countries are among the largest emerging markets worldwide. Expanding cooperation within the BRICS will not only bring additional development momentum to the five countries, but will also improve their strategic initiative.

What has attracted Indian media's attention is that despite the border disputes and challenges in China-India ties, Wang still made the above statement. This shows that China doesn't want to see bilateral disputes affect the cooperation mechanism among the BRICS countries. This is a strategic choice made by a responsible major country from the perspective of the whole picture.

China's efforts are clear to all in the two decades since the establishment of the BRICS mechanism, acting as an important driving force for the solidification of the mechanism. "Under the current changes worldwide and the COVID-19 pandemic, China will seek and expand common interests with other member states as always, and is still willing to develop together with other BRICS countries, including India," Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times.

China and India have achieved a smooth completion of disengagement of frontline troops in the Pangong Tso area. The two countries also held the 10th round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting on Saturday, and both agreed to follow the important consensus of their state leaders and push for a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues. "China still attaches great importance to China-India relations and India's important role in international and regional affairs," Qian said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, there is much room for cooperation among BRICS countries, including China and India. For example, during the 2020 BRICS summit, the five countries' leaders reached a consensus on cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines. This is an example of the BRICS countries' joint development amid rising uncertainties. In addition, China and India are the two largest economies in BRICS. In this context, India should also have the strategic wisdom to set aside bilateral disputes and stick to the BRICS cooperation framework.

"India regards BRICS as another important mechanism to enhance its status as a major power and participate in global governance. As India has actively embraced the QUAD framework in recent years, the BRICS is a platform for India to maintain its status as an emerging market and to better balance the country's diplomacy," Qian said.

India should meet China halfway and downplay geopolitical issues and China-India disputes under the BRICS framework. New Delhi should not prevent member countries from reaching a consensus. After all, this is also what India should do as the country has assumed the chairmanship. China-India disputes should not affect the BRICS framework. If India fails to see this, it will be an irresponsible act for the development of the country and the other four members.
Phone call between Indian, Chinese foreign ministers signals end of confrontation, shows determination to rebuild bilateral ties: Indian insider (Телефонный звонок между министрами иностранных дел Индии и Китая сигнализирует об окончании конфронтации и демонстрирует решимость восстановить двусторонние отношения: Indian insider) / China, February, 2021
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, speech

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi talked with Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar over the phone on Thursday, six days after the two countries held the tenth round of corps commander-level talks, in which the two countries had an in-depth exchange of views on issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector, and agreed to follow the consensus reached by their state leaders.

An insider in India told Global Times that Indian and Chinese foreign ministers chose this time to hold talks in order to send an important message. He said that after the completion of the India-China disengagement on the northern and southern sides of the Pangong Lake, The two sides immediately held the 10th round of ministerial talks and agreed to submit their respective plans for the next stage of disengagement to the policy-making level. This indicate that this round of border confrontation has come to an end.

In this context, the phone call is the political continuation of the meeting between the two foreign ministers in Moscow in September 2020. This also demonstrates the efforts and determination of both sides to restore peace and tranquility in the border areas and rebuild mutual trust in bilateral relations.

The insider believes that although there are still differences between India and China on the border issue, both sides agree to "not letting the differences become serious disputes," which is the basis and key for a continued development of bilateral relations.

Experts reached by the Global Times said on Friday that the dialogue between Wang and Jaishankar was aimed at ensuring the full implementation of the consensus reached at the tenth round of talks.

According to the information released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang stressed that China and India must cherish the hard-won situation, maintain the momentum of consultation, improve the border control mechanisms, and advance the border negotiation process, to realize peace and tranquility along border areas.

Jaishankar noted that India hopes to strengthen dialogue with China to achieve complete disengagement in other regions as soon as possible, pushing forward a sustained cool-off in the border situation, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Although it is not clear who initiated the call, it is obvious that both sides want to move forward with the process of disengagement and peace along the border, Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times on Friday.

Zhao disclosed that the tenth round talks involved the settlement of the area where the months-long standoff first broke out, the Galwan Valley. What's more, disengagement at the three points of contact is an acceptable consensus for both sides.

"In the past 10 rounds of talks, there have been difficulties in the process of implementing the consensus, which shows that the two sides were quite far apart on the border issues in practice," Zhao said.

The latest phone call shows that, with mutual trust between the two sides hurt, the key decision-makers from the two countries are working hard to heal China-India relations and seek more progress, looking to possibly realize stability and development, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Friday.

During the phone call, Wang and Jaishankar also agreed to establish a communication hotline to exchange views on certain matters. For experts, ensuring the mechanism works in a timely manner will be challenging for both sides.

Both Chinese and Indian commanders on the ground, even at the higher level, will have access to the hotline mechanism, which has played a role during many border frictions in the past, Zhao said. However, the case involving the Galwan Valley caused causalities and a great wave of hostility, resulting in the hotline being abandoned.

"When border frictions erupt, it is easy to turn to a game of mutual blame. The side who calls the hotline first will be regarded as the weak party, so no one is willing to call first," Zhao said, noting that soothing mechanisms on both sides also needs to play a bigger role and the demarcation of the LAC is fundamental to solving the dispute.

One analyst said that it is the common responsibility of both sides to maintain peace and tranquility on the border. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday that rights and wrongs of the China-India border issue are very clear, and the recent wobble in India's China policy has led to a setback in relations between the two countries.

Observers noted that China has shown full goodwill recently in both delaying the announcement of martyrs in the border clash and backing India's hosting of the BRICS summit. And the two countries should take the summit as a chance to repair mutual trust and get back to the right path.

India holds the rotating chairmanship of BRICS in 2021, and will hold the BRICS summit in the second half of the year. China will host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February 2022.

The two events will provide more opportunities for the two sides to ease relations, as leaders from both sides will possibly join the events if the COVID-19 pandemic is well under control, Zhao noted.

Observers said that some Indian media and netizens kept hyping up China's casualties, but the Indian government and military did not overreact or display a hard-line attitude toward China.

"They [Indian authorities] maintained a pragmatic and rational attitude, which also shows that the Indian government and military also value the opportunity to restore relations after a smooth completion of disengagement of frontline troops from the Pangong Lake area, with the border standoff coming to an end," Qian said.

Zhao, who previously held several exchanges with Jaishankar, told Global Times that the Indian foreign minister is neither pro-China nor anti-China.

"Jaishankar is very practical and realistic… He told me personally that before he became ambassador to China, he had read all the files of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on the China-India border issue five times," Zhao said.

Jaishankar held the post of Indian Ambassador to China from 2013 to 2015. Bilateral trade between China and India totaled $77.7 billion in 2020. Replacing the US, China became India's largest trading partner in 2020, Bloomberg reported, citing Indian official data.
Foreign Secretary's Lecture on 'Expectations from India in the Emerging World Order Post COVID-19', Haryana Institute of Public Administration (Лекция министра иностранных дел на тему «Ожидания Индии в связи с появлением нового мирового порядка после COVID-19», Институт государственного управления Харьяны) / India, February, 2021
Keywords: speech, covid-19, top_level_meeting

I would like to begin by thanking the Haryana Institute of Public Administration for inviting me to speak today. I would like to particularly thank Smt. Surina Rajan, Director General of the Institute. I would also like to acknowledge my colleague and friend Ambassador Kheya Bhattacharya. Warm greetings to Haryana Civil Services Officers and other participants of the training module on 'Global Issues'.

2. India has been described as a Union of States. We live in a federal system in which the states have been assigned specific roles, powers and responsibilities. In an increasingly globalized world, states, such as Haryana, are key players. They are destinations for investments. They are homes of our diaspora. Rivers flow across them to other countries. International boundaries sometimes run along their borders. They house airports, ports, businesses, universities and other entities with global connections.

3. The Ministry of External Affairs is highly cognizant of the international outlook of our state governments and has created a States Division to act as a nodal point for interaction with them.

4. It is apt that I speak to you today on the subject of India's emerging role in the post-COVID era.

5. The COVID pandemic has had a far-reaching impact on the geo-political and geo-economic landscape. It is the greatest shock to the international system since the Second World War. We were also confronted with the most severe economic slowdown in living history. The human cost of the pandemic has been substantial. Lives and livelihoods both have been lost.

6. Every facet of our national life has been affected by complexities and difficulties. Indian diplomacy and our external policies are no exception.

7. India has acted with resolve during this unprecedented crisis. A series of public health measures and carefully calibrated lockdowns have produced an unique epidemiological profile. Several major economies are still living through a deadly second wave of infections. In India, the rate of spread of infections, the number of fatalities and the number of cases requiring hospitalisation and critical care have all shown a consistent decline during the same period.

8. The government has also reacted boldly on the economic front. Its initial reaction was to launch one of the largest and boldest fiscal stimulus packages in recent economic history. This was accompanied by a simultaneous focus on building an Atmanirbhar Bharat. Its record in the field of essential medical supplies is instructive. India had worrying deficiencies in PPEs, in masks, in ventilators and in testing kits in the initial days of the pandemic. Domestic industry rose to the situation and has ramped up output to a point where we now export some of these essential health-related items.

9. There is enough evidence to indicate that we have turned the corner in economic terms. The IMF has projected 11.5% growth rate for India in 2021. This would make India the only major economy of the world to register double-digit growth amidst the pandemic.

10. The speed at which economic activity picks up is a key determinant of the health of the economy. Just a fortnight ago, the IMF said it believed the "Indian economy had been significantly revitalised.''

11. The challenge of managing the macro-economic fundamentals and of restarting economic activity was conducted in the midst of severe geopolitical stresses. The international system as we understand it today with its complex network of national and transnational systems has struggled to cope with the disruptions generated by the pandemic.

12. This brings us to the question of the post Covid world order and what it holds for India.

13. The pandemic and the lockdowns that it produced have made us take a closer look at some of the fundamental drivers of globalization. We have also been forced to think about other impulses that have shaped or underlie the current global political and economic order.

14. How we approach this question, particularly in the context of the current crisis, was articulated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in several interventions in the UN General Assembly, in NAM and G-20 summits, in a SAARC leaders conference and in several other platforms. The Prime Minister has stressed that the pandemic has shown us the limitations of the existing international system. A purely economic agenda has defined globalization so far, and we have cooperated more to balance competing individual interests, rather than advance the collective interests of all human kind. The limitations of this approach are evident. We need a new template of globalization, based on fairness, equality and humanity in the post-COVID world.

15. We have long been a constructive actor in the shaping of such a human welfare-centric international system: by sharing our developmental experience with partner countries in the Global South; undertaking humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations over a geographical area centred on the Indian Ocean but spanning from the Pacific to the Atlantic; assisting a number of our friends and partners during the current pandemic; and through initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

16. The concept of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam is central to our civilisational ethos. We believe that the universe is one. This places upon us the responsibility of being responsible global citizens.

17. We put this teaching into practice during the pandemic. Vaccine Maitri, the global health diplomacy operation in which we have supplied vaccines - made in India - to nations across the world is a practical demonstration of our belief and our approach.

18. India is the largest producer of vaccines in the world with about 60% of the global share. We have used these strengths not just to launch the world's largest vaccination drive in our country. We have delivered on Prime Minister's promise at the UN General Assembly to make Indian manufactured vaccines affordable and accessible to all of humanity. We have so far supplied about 230 lakh doses of vaccines to friends and partners across the world. Indian vaccine capacities will generate another 1.1 billion doses for the WHO-led COVAX scheme that distributes them to developing countries across the world.

19. Vaccine Maitri is not an isolated undertaking. It takes place in the aftermath of another large operation to provide essential medicines and medical supplies to over 150 countries during the pandemic. India has established its credentials as the pharmacy to the world during the crisis. Medications such as Hydroxychloroquine and Paracetmol made in India were shipped to destinations across the world in daunting logistical circumstances imposed by lockdowns. Indian rapid response teams were deployed in 8 countries. Indian naval vessels and air force airplanes delivered supplies along a wide arc to friends and partners.

20. We are a country with global interests. Our economy, and therefore our material well being, is plugged on to global supply chains. We are a powerhouse in the services sectors. We look at the world as a borderless economy with an interlinked marketplace. We have one of the largest and most able Diasporas.

21. We have to make every effort to keep the wheels of globalisation moving safely. That is why we launched the Vande Bharat Mission. It is the largest evacuation and air movement exercise in history and has transported more than 4 million Indian nationals in nine phases back and forth from multiple points across the world to India. Its current form that involves air bubbles with 24 countries and continuing evacuation flights is built upon earlier phases that involved movements of millions of people by air, sea and land.

22. We live in a world where much is possible. We also live in a very uncertain world. The pandemic, and its consequences, immediate and future, are an illustration of the level of uncertainty that we must live with. We are faced with new and uncertain challenges even as we struggle with existing threats to international peace and security.

23. This is also a time of opportunity. Empirically speaking, all crises are succeeded by periods of growth. The Great Depression and the second World War were followed by one of the greatest sustained spurts of economic growth. A similar trend was observed after all the four major recessions in the post-World War II era. Major health crises have led to investments in medical science and public health that have transformed our lives.

24. We expect that this will also happen after the present crisis expends itself.

25. A number of sectors of the economy have demonstrated a remarkable resilience and adaptability. India's pharmaceutical and health industry is first and foremost amongst them. We obviously have world class capacities. We have also established that we are reliable and responsible stakeholders in global healthcare supply chains.

26. India's e-commerce, IT and IT-enabled services industries have emerged as powerful global players. There have been significant investments by global technology majors - US$ 10 billion by Google and US $5 billion by Facebook – in India. The JAM trinity - Jan Dhan Aadhaar and Mobile – pioneered by this government has set the stage for a fintech revolution. Prime Minister had earlier launched a global digital platform, APIX, to connect Fintech companies and financial institutions. We are also working with several countries on making our digital payment systems interoperable. India's major internet start-ups range food delivery services, ride-sharing apps, e-commerce platforms, to online insurance now set global standards.

27. All of these are contributing to the Prime Minister's vision of an Atmanirbhar Bharat. It needs to be reiterated that an Atmanirbhar Bharat is not an India that is isolated from the world. It is, on the contrary, a globalised India that is focussed on taking what is local to the global marketplace. It is an India that is focussed on becoming a nerve center of global supply chains and a manufacturing hub.

28. This is also an opportunity to facilitate the process of energy transition. India, already a major energy consumer, needs access to traditional and non-traditional sources of energy to fuel its economic growth. The energy preferences of our country are forward looking and we have made major strides in improving access to clean energy for our citizens.

29. India is also a country that is more than cognizant of the threat posed by climate change. Five years after the Paris Agreement, India is amongst the few developing countries, that are not only meeting their "green" targets but are aspiring to more ambitious climate goals. At the recent Climate Ambition Summit Prime Minister Modi clearly articulated the Indian approach. He said that we must set our sights "even higher" even as we do not lose sight of the past. He further said that India would not only achieve its Paris Agreement targets, but would exceed them beyond expectations.

30. India intends to be a responsible global citizen in the climate space. We are not only going beyond our Paris Agreement commitments. We are adopting innovative instruments to further international cooperation in climate action. As I mentioned earlier, we have created international organisations like the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) that are working on creating global low carbon pathways. More than 80 countries have joined the International Solar Alliance making it one of the fastest growing international bodies. More and more countries are also joining the CDRI that is working on promoting climate-resilient infrastructure across the world.

31. Energy is at the center of all climate strategies. India has become a clean energy powerhouse and is a leader in energy transition from CO2 producing sources to renewables and non-fossil fuel sources.

32. Insecurity anywhere makes us all less secure. Security is not a zero-sum game. India has always seen itself as a net security provider. Our definition of security is a holistic one. Security is not just the possession of armed capabilities. It is the absence of fear. It is about addressing the problems that generate insecurity and vulnerability.

33. India is one of the leading maritime security providers in its oceanic neighbourhood. We are active in anti-piracy operations. We also work with several friends and partners in enhancing our maritime domain awareness and maritime information systems capacities. India has maritime dialogues with an increasing number of countries and is actively cooperating on sharing information and perceptions on regional maritime perspectives. India has agreements with Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia on coordinated maritime patrolling.

34. India is active in combating maritime pollution and sent a team to combat an oil spill in Mauritius recently. We have participated and continue to participate in maritime search and rescue operations and promote SOPs and interoperability in that area.

35. The fundamental spatial orientation of our policy remains Neighbourhood First. We have demonstrated our commitment at the highest levels to working in South Asia and in the sub-regional BIMSTEC frameworks. Within South Asia, we have strengthened BBIN initiatives. It may be noted that my first visit after the pandemic was to one of our neighbours and closest friends, Bangladesh. I have since visited Myanmar, Nepal and Maldives.

36. Initiatives such as BIMSTEC link Neighbourhood First to another fundamental pillar of our policies, viz., Act East. We have a growing dialogue with ASEAN through multiple channels.

37. In the last five years, Think West – our outreach to the Gulf and West Asian countries – has become an increasingly important pillar of our foreign policy. Our engagement with Africa, both in political and economic terms, has also intensified as never before. There have beenoutgoing visits to African countries at the level of the President, the Vice President and the Prime Minister. Over two-thirds of India's Lines of Credit in the past decade have been offered to African countries.

38. India believes in the vision of an open, free, rules-based Indo-Pacific region supported by inclusive global and regional institutions that promote prosperous, stable and sovereign states on the basis of shared interests.

39. We continue to build on our relationship with the United States. We continue to have a special strategic partnership with Russia. We have a rapidly growing and changing relationship with the European Union and with with European countries such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany. We recently entered into our first Green Strategic Partnership with Denmark. Japan is another vital partner with whom we have a mutli-dimensional relationship.

40. We are committed multilateralists. We are committed to a rules based international order. India is currently in the UN Security Council for a non-permanent tenure. We are also the BRICS chair. We have been invited to the forthcoming G7 summit in England later this year. We will also chair the G20 in 2023. We remain active in other multilateral and plurilateral formats such as SCO and RIC.

41. Our Development Partnership Administration has a global presence deploying around US$ 31 billion in lines of credit and US$ 8 billion in grants. More than 80,000 foreigners have been trained by the Government of India in Indian institutions.

42. Finally, I would like to refer to the public service delivery mechanisms of our Ministry. We have a global network of 192 plus Missions and posts. We also have a nationwide presence through our passport offices and passport seva kendras.

43. We work closely with state authorities in delivery of public and consular services and we may have had interacted with some of you during this process.

44. I would like to end to once again by thanking the Institute for inviting me and for its focus on diplomacy and global engagement of states. Globalization means that the global content of your work will grow and we will, I am certain, work together much more in the future.

45. The Ministry of External Affairs is keen to work with Haryana and other states in promoting international cooperation. Our growing network of Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates in all continents are also keen to partner with you in furthering your initiatives.

Thank you.
First meeting of BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas (Первая встреча шерп и су-шерп БРИКС) / India, February, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting

BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas held their first meeting under India's Chairship from 24-26 February 2021. The meeting was chaired by Secretary CPV&OIA, Mr. Sanjay Bhattacharyya, and Additional Secretary Economic Relations, P. Harish, as India's BRICS Sherpa and Sous Sherpa.

India presented its priorities for its Chairship in 2021 under the theme -"BRICS@15: Intra BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus" - (i) Reform of the Multilateral System; (ii) Counter Terrorism cooperation; (iii) Using Digital and Technological Solutions for attaining SDGs; and (iv) Enhancing People to People exchanges. The calendar of events for BRICS 2021 was also presented followed by discussion and feedback sessions.

A series of briefings and presentations were made by various GoI Ministries on India's priorities across various thematic areas during its Chairship. These included BRICS Counter Terrorism cooperation, Agriculture with a special emphasis on Sustainable Development and Digital Agriculture, Innovation cooperation, Digital Health, cooperation in countering the Covid-19 pandemic and Traditional Medicine, Economic Strategy Partnership and trade agenda. The Vice President of the BRICS New Development Bank, Mr. Anil Kishora, briefed BRICS Sherpas on the bank's priorities for the year, including the opening of the bank's regional offices in Russia and India, and on NDB membership expansion.

Cultural and People-to-people engagement was a focus area during the three day meeting with the Chairs of the BRICS Business Council, BRICS Women Business Alliance, BRICS Academic Forum, BRICS Civil Forum and BRICS Think Tank Council presenting their agenda and planned activities for the year.

BRICS partners appreciated the theme and priorities selected by India for its Chairship year for being timely and relevant, and expressed support for the new initiatives proposed by India. BRICS Sherpas agreed to meet again in two months time to review the progress made on the discussions, and the programme of upcoming Foreign and other Ministerial meetings.

New vaccine diplomacy in world of inequality (Новая вакцинная дипломатия в мире неравенства) / India, February, 2021
Keywords: covid-19, social_issues, political_issues

Uriel Araujo, researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts

In times of pandemics and in a world of vaccine inequality, vaccine shots are now a tool for soft power. With the devastating impact the pandemic had on the economy, many countries do not want or cannot afford another lockdown, making the vaccination of citizens to achieve COVID-19 immunity all the more imperative. Because of this, there is a huge demand for COVID-19 vaccines. In this context, trade wars and geopolitical disputes – as often happens – may advance such goal, or rather delay it. Unfortunately, the civilian population pays the price.

Lithuania, in its refusal to procure vaccine from neighboring Russia, is an interesting case. Nowadays, we can even talk of some kind of vaccine "warfare": Israel, for example, blocked vaccine shots from entering Gaza (Palestine).

Meanwhile, several wealthy countries are in fact hoarding vaccine supplies. In mid-January, a small number of these countries (which together comprise only 16% of the global population) held 60% of all COVID-19 vaccines that had been purchased globally. Most of these countries have over 100% coverage. On top of the list is Canada, which purchased enough shots to actually cover more than five times its total population (most of it was pre-ordered but has not yet reached the North American country). The World Health Organization has described the current situation as a "catastrophic moral failure"

However, the economy is not the only factor preventing some countries from obtaining enough shots. Peru has been going through a severe political crisis - such instability caused no less than nine changes to the Minister of Health post and four different presidents in just a few years. All that change made it impossible for the Peruvian government to proceed with negotiations in time to get enough vaccines. A similar situation is faced by Brazil: 5 Brazilian state capitals have run out of vaccines and six others could run out of it soon.

In Africa, most countries are receiving their vaccines from India, China, and Russia. Africa is simply not included in the supply priorities for most Western pharmaceutical industries. Chinese and Russian vaccines are in high demand globally and so they compete internationally to meet a growing global demand - and also New Delhi, to a lesser extent. Such trade competition also has diplomatic consequences.

In this kind of diplomatic (and in some cases humanitarian) race, the highlight goes to India and its vaccine grant assistance policy. New Delhi has been dispatching millions of vaccine doses of its own nationally-manufactured vaccine to its neighbors in South Asia and also abroad – mostly to key partners in the Indian Ocean. It is part of the Indian "Neighborhood First" initiative, in line with its Vaccine Maitri (Vaccine Friendship) diplomacy. India has basically stepped in when China failed in doing so in the region. In line with its "Neighborhood First", amongst the first to receive the shots were India's neighbors like Bhutan and Nepal, but also key partners in the Indian Ocean like Mauritius, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka. Predictably, in the list of beneficiaries, Pakistan (India's main rival) is nowhere to be found.

Besides such assistance moves, India is also commercially supplying vaccines to several nations, including Brazil, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.

Another highlight goes to Africa. The African Union, through its Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention agency has shown a lot of continental coordination regarding the pandemic. The African Union has been securing doses for many African countries.

The demand (and the diplomatic opportunities) goes beyond vaccines as well: China and Russia have been distributing masks and other such protective equipments since the outbreak of COVID-19 to the point of making it an important tenet of their diplomatic relations.

Once scorned (because it was rolled out before final trials), the Russian Sputnik V now seems to be the favorite. According to a stage trial published February 2 in the esteemed Lancet medical journal, it gives a 92% protection and there were no serious illness or deaths in the vaccinated group during the trial. According to the study, it is easier to be stored and transported (between 2 and 8C degrees) and it employs in its second dose a slightly different version, which gives longer-lasting protection rather than using the same identical vaccine twice.

Amid last year's trade war between the US and China, the Chinese Sinovac vaccine was also attacked. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro – who was perhaps Trump's most loyal ally – even claimed (tongue-in-cheek) that it could turn people into alligators. Unbable to secure in time enough shots of the British AstraZeneca vaccine (initially its favorite choice) or of the Pfizer one, the Brazilian government ended up turning to Sinovac shots, and is closing a deal to purchase the Russian Sputnik V and the Indian Covaxin.

In this new game of vaccine diplomacy, both Russia and China, risk under-delivering (in face of what they promise). Russian Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has admitted in a statement that Russia's productive capacity cannot meet the high international demand for vaccines.

There is also a problem with current bilateral agreements, as it can be seen in the recent case of South Africa, which earlier this month placed its AstraZeneca shots on hold after a study showed it is not efficient against the new South African COVID-19 virus variant. If a rational global system existed, these shots could be redirected to another country where such virus variant is not present, but such is not the case, argues Suerie Moon (a co-director of the Global Health Centre - Graduate Institute Geneva).

In the post-pandemic world, governments will end up turning to countries that are not close allies or even rivals to secure vaccines. Multilateral arrangements will be necessary as well as international cooperation.

China's President Xi Jinping Expected to Attend BRICS Summit in India as Border Dispute Thaws (Председатель КНР Си Цзиньпин примет участие в саммите БРИКС в Индии в связи с оттепелью приграничных споров) / Russia, February, 2021
Keywords: summit, xi_jinping, narendra_modi, political_issues

The presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 13th BRICS Summit in India would bring him face-to-face with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for the first time since the Ladakh border crisis broke out last spring. China and India are currently working out a troop disengagement plan to end the military standoff.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to attend the BRICS annual summit scheduled to be held in India later this year, several Indian media outlets reported on Tuesday, without citing their source of information.

A day before, the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed its support for India hosting the annual gathering of leaders from the developing countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, collectively known as BRICS.

"We will work with India and other members to strengthen communication and dialogue, and consolidate the three-pillar cooperation," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, in reference to political, economic, and security ties between the Asian neighbours. President Xi's participation, if it happens, would mark the first time the leaders from China and India meet face-to-face in the wake of the Ladakh military standoff, which began in April last year.

The clash at the disputed de-facto Sino-India border turned into the deadliest conflict between the countries since the 1962 border war.

In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Xiamen city in China to attend the ninth BRICS Summit, days after another episode of border tension was resolved – at the Doklam trijunction on the eastern stretch of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The BRICS Summit last year, originally scheduled to take place in St Petersburg in November, was shifted to an online due to the COVID pandemic.

The last time the leaders from BRICS countries met for their annual summit was in 2019, when the five government heads met in Brasilia.
The Rise of Asia in Global History and Perspective: 60 Years after Belgrade, what non-alignment in a multipolar world and for a global future? / Session "BRICS – G20" (Подъем Азии в глобальной истории и перспективах: нейтрализм в многополярном мире и для глобального будущего? / Сессия «БРИКС - G20») / Russia, February, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, trade_relations, political_issues

The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism: BRICS News Approachs on the Global Arena

Lawyer and Researcher, Specialist in International Law and International Politics
Brasilia - Brazil

The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism has been negotiated for more than twenty years, with recent advances perpetrated by some countries belonging to the BRICS. As the only international legal instrument in the fight against this global scourge, the countries that compose it are active in the diplomatic agenda on the subject, and are not overlooked in any of its negotiating summits.

Thus, this work is a continuation of the 2019 article, punctuating recent developments within the BRICS, both in relation to the external performance of the group and also in the internal legislative changes of each country that reflect how these countries see this global problem.

Contrary to the mere assumption that the group does not have concrete activities in the international arena, the BRICS continue to act together in a variety of themes, ranging from financing to development projects (Bank of the BRICS) to the remodeling of the architecture of world trade, even with apparently opposite governments, revealing the importance and its weight in International Relations.

Nevertheless, the theme of terrorism is a concrete agenda for the countries that integrate it, functioning as an amalgamation that unites them in a common objective. The Convention on Terrorism continues to be part of the group's diplomatic language, appearing again in the recent international policy statements made at the latest summits.

Even with the advent of a Pandemic capable of monopolizing and reshaping the international agenda and the efforts of countries, the work of terrorist groups has been increasing, with the activation of new cells and the maintenance of internet advertising. In this sense, the group's countries have passed new laws and policies on the topic, which further reinforce the ambiguity between genuine combat against terrorist groups and freedom of expression and destruction of opposition within a country, undermining democracy.

In this way, the work analyzes the recent laws passed internally by the countries, the combats and internal problems that still inflict them, attacks, restriction of freedom, reduction of democracy and external action in the implementation of the Convention on Terrorism.

Challenges for BRICS Trade Cooperation

MGIMO under the Ministry for foreign Affairs,
Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation
Moscow – Russian Federation

The subject of the study is the legal and financial features of the BRICS trade cooperation and its practice in contemporary environment. The purpose is to identify problems that impede the effective development of economic relations, reveal challenges and put forward proposals for their improvement. The study shows that the BRICS countries have significant reserves for multilateral cooperation and support of trade relations. In this regard, harmonization of economic relations of partner countries is required to solve strategic problems with the goal of improving living standards of the BRICS population. By simplifying the access of entrepreneurs to credit, tax incentives for exporters of industrial goods, flexible conditions for direct and indirect financing, expanding participation of institutional investors and development banks with BRICS participation in putting strategic programs into action we can contribute to sustainable economic growth of partner – countries.

Actually, trade cooperation of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is one of the priority areas of the Economic Partnership Strategy of member-countries. In the list of key objectives of this Strategy is a promotion of trade cooperation, expanding access to the stock markets of member countries and diversifying investments. It is noted that acceleration of trade cooperation, along with other areas, is designed to strengthen balanced and inclusive economic growth, as well as increase the level of international competitiveness of the BRICS economies, which account for 17,3% of world trade in goods, 12,7% of world trade in services, 21% of global gross domestic product (GDP).

Currently, the process of supporting economic relations and expansion of national currencies also depends on the instruments, used in trade and cross-border regions with neighboring countries (Mongolia, Vietnam, the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, etc.). Areas of interactions and preferential "green lights" for partner countries are being discussed and can include energyproducts, wood processing, agriculture, machinery and equipment, innovations, finance, infrastructure development, medicine, environmental protection. Mechanism of public–private partnerships, creation of multinational enterprises with participation of BRICS business entitiesplayan important role in facing new challenges. Intergovernmental support for commercial, industrial centers, aimed at expanding trade ties, can also open up broad prospects, including the framework of multilateral investments and entrepreneurship development.

BRICS: local currencies, productive credit and debt reduction. Policies for a new global economic architecture

Economist, columnist of ItaliaOggi,
Rome - Italy

The Covid pandemia has brought the world economy and trade to its knees. Even the BRICS countries, with the exception of China, suffered huge losses in GDP, social wealth and employment in 2020. They say the negative effect of the pandemic will be worse than that caused by the global financial crisis of 2007-8.

As in their initial spirit, then as a response to the Great Crisis, the BRICS are now proposing again the founding values and their development programs, not only to consolidate their cooperation, but to actively promote the reform of the entire world political, economic and financial system, respectful of sovereignty and multilateralism

The New Development Bank assumes an even more central role in some aspects of the program. Important is the renewed promotion of the use of national currencies in the financing of development projects and in the system of payments within the BRICS. This recognizes the growing inability of the dollar to manage on its own the old system born in Bretton Woods in 1944. It is a strategic step towards the possible creation of a new, fairer international monetary system based on a basket of currencies.

With the support for the suspension of the payment of the sovereign debts of the LDC countries, also promoted by the UN and the G20, the BRICS intervene forcefully in the process of managing and revising the debt. After central banks of the so-called advanced world in 2020 injected $ 7.5 trillion of liquidity and the governments created $ 12 trillion in public aid out of new debt, the debt issue can no longer be used to justify austerity and underdevelopment measures.

In addition, the NDB intends to develop new financial instruments to create additional productive credit capacity exclusively directed towards development projects and sectors of the real economy. This is in contrast with speculative finance that is causing dangerous financial bubbles to grow dramatically.

These are measures that prepare the ground for the creation of a new global economic-financial architecture. It will be up to the advanced countries, starting with the European Union, to give positive responses to these initiatives and proposals. A real joint collaboration against the pandemic could be the test case.

For a new world economic order: the principles of sustainability applied by the BRICS NDB Bank and the main Multilateral Development Banks MDBs

EURISPES -The Secretary General
Roma (Italy)

The principles, policies, practices on sustainable development, in its triple economic, environmental and social dimension, are the common platform that all United Nations member states have approved and built since 2015 to promote the start of a new world economic order. This basic political decision, confirmed and renewed on several occasions over the past few years, is being translated into new growth strategies, plans and programs that involve, albeit with different methods and times of implementation, the international institutions, governments, major public and private operators. The global health and economic crisis caused by Coronavirus has confirmed the value of the analyzes on the fragility of the development model followed so far and the need to accelerate the processes of change with a more intense common effort.

In accelerating this corrective process, an important role is recognized by international institutions, such as the United Nations and the European Union, to multilateral development banks, as promoters of the diffusion of new investment guidelines and methods, structures able to guide and condition the choices of private operators in the direction of truly sustainable development, to act as engines for the reconstruction and a growth oriented to the quality of development.

In this context, it becomes important to have a clear vision of the principles, criteria, performance and result indicators, which guide the choices of the main Multilateral Development Banks MDBs; in other words their sustainability assessment models. To this end, the Author illustrates the main results of a large study conducted in 2020 by the EURISPES Institute (Rome-Italy) which presents a comparative analysis of the sustainability models applied by the BRICS NDB Bank. and the following development banks: the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the Latin American Development Bank (CAF), the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB), the World Bank (WB).

BRICS and AFRICA: the need of a new investment paradigm for sustainability

President Link2007, senior sustainability and impact investment advisor, former EU Ambassador, Director for Planet and Prosperity European Commission, Assistant Director GeneraL UN FAO
Rome - Italy

The "Rise of Asia" has promoted the BRICS grouping and now the BRICS need to show leadership and innovation in the theatre of international financing for development.

The new normal after the pan-crisis generated by the COVID-19 Pandemia is yet to be established but it is clear that sustainability will have to play a prominent role. International relations are getting more and more interlinked and emerging economies are more active on the scene of trade and development than ever before. In future this will continue to increase.

Emerging and developing countries have significantly increased their weight in global GDP and in global economic growth. Part of their financial resourcesis still invested in developed countries, with low yields while there are large unmet needs in the emerging and developing countries in the field of infrastructure and sustainable development. A shortfall of investment of approximately US$1 trillion annually was estimated already in 2012 , before the definition of the SDGs. Today the needs are much greater.

The leaders of the BRICS nations have committed to the creation of a new Development Bank which would be a complement, not a substitute, for existing financial institutions both in the public and the private sector. Yet it will need to have a different character in order to gain a personality with a good reputation.In fact it could also strengthen the voice of developing and emerging economies in the development finance architecture and more importantly, boost the South-South cooperation agenda both in quantity and quality.

Despite the strong language of political declarations, the BRICS, concretely, have yet to provide clear signals of innovation and differentiation about financing sustainable development which is now a request o9n the political dialogue both bilaterally and multi-bilaterally with African Nations.

The new paradigm will be all about measuring sustainability and impact to raise international profile of the political interactions.

In this framework it is a political imperative for the BRICS to promote the interests of the developing world and to contribute strongly to South-South cooperation agenda.

Transparency and Sustainability will be of essence. The (not-so-technical) aspects of providing a framework and the metric for sustainability due diligence are paramount.

The BRICS countries have many lessons around to avoid mistakes of the past made for example by the EU or by others.

A strong clear SDGs focus is a must. In factthe strong unifying factor the glue today in the BRICS to pursue external policy on financing development is, in fact, the SDG framework. This gives a strong sense of purpose to add to the strong rationale and inspires the conclusions and recommendations of this paper.

World of Work
12th Technical Group Meeting of National Statistical Offices (NSOs) of BRICS Countries for Preparation of Joint Statistical Publication 2021 (12-е заседание Технической группы национальных статистических управлений (НСУ) стран БРИКС для подготовки совместной статистической публикации 2021 г.) / India, February, 2021
Keywords: cooperation

The 12th Technical Group Meeting of National Statistical Offices of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Countries has been held today (24th February 2021) at New Delhi in virtual mode under the aegis of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Government of India. With a view to providing a common platform for focused interaction, the association of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) Countries was mooted in 64th General Assembly of United Nations in 2009. The association came to be known as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) in 2010 with the joining of South Africa. Since then, the association of BRICS Countries has been deliberating the issue of mutual interest under the Chairship of one of the BRICS Countries by rotation. India, Chair in 2021, is scheduled to host various deliberations in 2021. The 12th Technical Group Meeting has been chaired by Director General (Statistics), MoSPI and attended by National Statistical Offices of BRICS Countries. The draft Joint Statistical Publication (JSP) and JSP (Snapshot) have been discussed in the meeting. The Joint Statistical Publication (JSP) and JSP (Snapshot) will be released in "Meeting of Heads of NSOs" to be held in the month of August, 2021. The discussions centred around the data to be included in the various domains of Joint Statistical Publication such as Economy, Employment, Industry, Energy, Environment, Agriculture, Finance, Tourism, etc. The meeting also discussed the draft proposals by ROSSTAT, Russia on cooperation between BRICS Countries, vision document on cooperation and statistical system development of BRICS NSOs and proposal regarding New Development Bank for project funding.
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