Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 11.2021
2021.03.15 — 2021.03.21
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Will India be cat's paw in Indo-Pacific strategy? (Будет ли Индия играть роль буфера в стратегии Индо-Тихоокеанского региона?) / China, March, 2021
Keywords: political_issues, expert_opinion

The United States seems desperate to include India into its Indo-Pacific strategy, especially after China-India relations suffered a setback due to the border clash last year.

But despite that, can China and India still repair their damaged ties and maintain cooperation under a multilateral framework?

The months-long military standoff along the disputed border in 2020 not only soured Sino-Indian relations but also raised regional tensions. And the deaths of four Chinese and 20 Indian soldiers in the border clash dealt a heavy blow to the two countries.

Fortunately, China and India managed to control the situation by holding several rounds of talks at different levels. The two sides also agreed to military disengagement, pulling back troops and setting up buffer zones in February. Still, the two countries need to make more efforts to put bilateral ties back on track.

The good news amid all the grim headlines last year was that despite the Indian government banning hundreds of Chinese apps, which caused huge losses to companies on both sides, China replaced the United States to become India's top trade partner in 2020, according to Indian official data. This shows that it's not easy for either side to abandon bilateral ties, especially economic and trade ties.

Chinese companies' growing competence and competitiveness have helped them to establish a firm footing in global markets including India. Not for nothing do Chinese enterprises, including those from Hong Kong, account for 131 of the Fortune Global 500 companies-exceeding the US' 121.

The complementary economic and trade structure of China and India is the basic reason for the relatively stable trade and economic ties between the two sides notwithstanding the border clash. India desperately needs to build new infrastructure facilities to boost its economic growth and China's rich experience in infrastructure construction opens up innumerable opportunities for mutual development.

India has been importing telecommunication and electronic products, machinery, and pharmaceutical chemicals from China, and China has been purchasing minerals, iron-ore and chemical products from India. Also, China has a fast growing entertainment market where Indian films have gained increasing popularity reaping rich benefits. The complementary nature of the Chinese and Indian economies has not only increased mutual economic benefit but also deepened cultural exchanges.

In his meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017 and 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping said healthy and stable relations between China and India are in line with the fundamental interests of their people.

China and India are the world's largest and second-largest developing countries, with rich histories marked by both prosperity and suffering. With a combined population of 2.7 billion, the two countries are also the fastest-growing economies. And by strengthening mutual trust and overcoming the setbacks, the two neighbors can better serve their interests and contribute more to global development.

Under the BRICS mechanism, China and India have expanded cooperation with three other major emerging economies, Russia, Brazil and South Africa, to promote mutual economic development. China and India are also part of a group of countries with the highest potential for growth in the next 50 years.

Global cooperation mechanisms are important platforms for deepening China-India cooperation. For instance, BRICS countries have been working together to address global issues, and speaking for all developing countries. India will host the BRICS summit this year and China has conveyed its willingness to advance dialogue, push forward the agenda of greater political, economic, and cultural cooperation, and expand "BRICS Plus" to benefit more developing economies.

After the border clash and the monthslong standoff, and the COVID-19-induced global economic recession, China has taken measures to promote win-win cooperation with India. And it is expected that India will make similar efforts to continue the meaningful dialogue and cooperation with China to realize mutual benefit and boost the development of the Asian region and beyond.

Finding Strategic Autonomy in the Quad: India's Trial by Fire (Обретение стратегической автономии в четверке: испытание огнем) / USA, March, 2021
Keywords: political_issues, expert_opinion

The recently concluded virtual meeting of the leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Initiative (Quad) drew the attention of Beijing. The Global Times has carried a number of commentaries calling out the Quad for varied deficiencies, including its "limited scope," "internal divergence," and lack of a "cohesive force from within," in addition to warning that the group will have negative repercussions for other multilateral groupings like the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Despite the all too palpable strategic embrace between India and the United States, which forms the bedrock of the Quad, India's membership in the BRICS and SCO still count as important planks of its multilateral engagements. A severe downturn in Sino-Indian relations following the military crisis at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), coupled with rising tensions in U.S.-China great power competition, has seen a growing convergence between India and the United States to counteract China's unilateral and intransigent behavior in the Indo-Pacific region. The other members in the Quad, Japan and Australia, also happen to be treaty allies of the United States. They are increasingly experiencing difficult relations with China and also show intentions of growing their own strategic engagement with India. The recent inclusion of Australia in the U.S.-India-Japan Malabar exercise has added more heft to the Quad.

In the midst of these geopolitical tensions, the current discourse on the broader direction of India's foreign policy seems to revolve around New Delhi's close engagement with the United States while adhering to its historic inhibitions for formal military alliances. The unfolding geopolitical milieu has clearly prompted India to re-examine its status in the international system, and reflect upon the central undercurrent of its foreign policy orientation: the practice of strategic autonomy, whether through non-alignment in the bipolar Cold Ward era, or multi-alignment in the emerging multipolar era.

The New Delhi policymaking establishment has projected an urgency to break free from the traditional dogmas of Indian foreign policy, and become more upfront in terms of choosing partners to maximize India's interest through hard-nosed pragmatism hitherto unseen. India's choice of non-alignment as the definitive feature of its foreign policy during the bipolar Cold War era arguably represented India's intention to practice strategic autonomy, by projecting an aversion to war, alliances, and power politics. For a young India, lacking in material capabilities and etching its independent identity in the comity of nations, maintaining an independent agency by practicing strategic autonomy through non-alignment remained the guiding light for its foreign policy decision-making.

The articulation of non-alignment and India's objectives for pursuing the same have since been subjected to varied misinterpretations. From U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles' calling it "immoral" and wrongly identifying it as "neutrality," to perceived notions of India breaking its vows of non-alignment by signing the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union in 1971, India's ability and willingness to practice strategic autonomy through non-alignment has often come under scrutiny. With the end of the Cold War and the coming of a brief unipolar era, non-alignment began to encounter carpers who questioned its relevance, and the lure of practicing strategic autonomy came under scrutiny as well.

As India seeks out to actualize its own potential as a shaper of geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific, policymaking elites in New Delhi ought to think about what they seek to achieve through the practice of strategic autonomy. This is particularly imperative as other major stakeholders of the "free, open, inclusive and rules based" Indo-Pacific seem to have raised expectations for New Delhi, not only in countering an aggressive China, but also in meeting other challenges like climate change and global health. Through the practice of strategic autonomy, India strives for an ideal traction giving it "maximum options in its relations with the outside world." It is expected "to enhance India's strategic space and capacity for independent agency," allowing maximum flexibility and maneuverability to increase the options for New Delhi's choices to promote and protect its interest.

However, the practice of strategic autonomy is bound to come under circumstantial limitations. Strategic autonomy articulated as non-alignment during the Cold War era imbibed the idea that alliance-driven power politics in any iteration would be detrimental to the development of a newly independent nation such as India. The transformed geopolitical environment after the Cold War saw India adapt the practice of strategic autonomy to fully exploit the opportunities the globalized world had to offer. Ridding itself of its non-aligned past, India now espouses "alignment based on issues" rather than ideology, thereby maintaining "decisional autonomy."

It is interesting to note that India's non-alignment, and hence its practice of strategic autonomy, have been questioned because of both its closeness to the Soviet Union during certain phases of the Cold War, and currently its strategic congruence with the United States. However, these foreign policy orientations on New Delhi's part rather represent the practice of strategic autonomy, to protect India's core interest in the face of exigent geopolitical scenarios.

Currently, India has found strategic convergence with a number of countries, which see a joint interest in managing the ramifications of a rising and aggressive China. Whether the Quad is a "concert of powers" or a budding "Asian NATO" remains in the realm of conjecture. However, India's alignment with like-minded countries toward evolving a "free, open, inclusive and rules based" Indo-Pacific also happens at a time when India will have to simultaneously navigate its way through its complex relationships with countries like China and Russia, and multilateral groupings like the BRICS and SCO.

In the words of India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, India has come to "discover the benefits of working with different powers on different issues" in the multipolar world, which he likens to "having many balls up in the air at the same time and displaying the confidence and dexterity to drop none." As the Quad finds greater political leverage with the virtual leadership meeting and the joint statement that extols "the Spirit of the Quad" amidst a world limping back from a severe global pandemic, India seems to be exuding a new foreign policy direction to confront the new brave world. In New Delhi's pursuit to become a leading power and key influencer of the shape of things to come in the Indo-Pacific, the flexibility and traction accorded by the practice of strategic autonomy will be its guiding north star.
India receives US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin with China on its mind (Индия принимает министра обороны США Ллойда Остина, думая о Китае) / China, March, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

  • Timing of visit, which follows stops in Japan and South Korea and heavy criticism of China, signals importance Biden places on New Delhi as a security ally
  • US will be keen to take ties to a new level, analysts say, but India is likely to resist being dragged into a coalition against its fellow BRICS nation

While India will warmly receive US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday in a sign of their strengthening defence ties, analysts say New Delhi will be careful to signal that it is not forming a coalition against China. Austin's three-day trip to New Delhi, where he will call on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and other senior national security leaders, will come hot on the heels of a US-China
meeting in Alaska on Thursday that has been described as testy and ill-tempered. During the face-off in Alaska between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan on the US side, and China's most senior foreign policy official, Yang Jiechi, and foreign minister Wang Yi on the other, Beijing accused Washington of inciting countries "to attack China", while the United States said China had "arrived intent on grandstanding".

The US also expressed concerns over Chinese policies in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, as well as cyber attacks on the US and the "economic coercion of our allies", all of which it said threatened "the rules-based order that maintains global stability". Meanwhile, China accused Washington of using its military might and financial supremacy to suppress other countries.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Washington-based Wilson Center said discussions in India were likely to focus on increasing military-to-military cooperation, and how this could be taken to the next level "beyond the arms sales and defence agreements that have dominated the security relationship for years". As India eyes US military deal, neutrality on China takes back seat.

The timing of the visit – and the fact that Austin is in India after going to Japan and South Korea as part of the first overseas trip by a member of US President Joe Biden's cabinet – is more significant than any outcome of talks in New Delhi, said Kugelman. "This signals to India, and to common rivals like China, that the Biden administration values its security relationship with New Delhi in a big way," said Kugelman.

Austin was accompanied by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the Tokyo and Seoul legs of the trip, where the United States criticised China for its "coercion and aggression", including in its expansive territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. While Blinken's counterpart in Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi agreed that China's behaviour was "destabilising" and "inconsistent with the international order", South Korea's Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong did not mention China, a reflection of how it – like most Asian countries – has to carefully balance relations with its largest trade partner.

Jawaharlal Nehru University's Swaran Singh, a professor in international studies, said India did not want to take sides or be pushed towards "so-called anti-China forces", adding that the recent agreement by Beijing and New Delhi to pull back troops from one section of their disputed border meant India would not feel compelled to align itself with the US.

India was preparing to host the next BRICS summit – involving Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – later this year so it would be restrained and "carefully calibrate any statements so as not to further complicate India-China relations", said Singh.


Last October, Delhi and Washington signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which, along with the two agreements signed earlier – the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) – completes what is commonly described as a troika of "foundational pacts" for deep military cooperation between the two countries.

Under BECA, India will receive real-time access to American intelligence that will increase the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.

COMCASA, signed in 2018, allows India to receive encrypted communications equipment and systems from the US so that both military commanders, aircraft and ships can communicate through secure networks.

LEMOA, signed in 2016, allows the two militaries to replenish from each other's bases, and access supplies, spare parts and services from each other's land facilities, airbases, and ports.

Yogesh Joshi, research fellow in the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS), said Austin's visit would focus on the "consolidation of these agreements and their operationalisation".

He added that defence trade would also be high on Austin's agenda, pointing out that Delhi had bought almost US$21 billion worth of defence equipment from the US since 2008. While the India-China border tensions had calmed slightly, Beijing's growing naval presence in waters that are India's traditional sphere of influence meant India would still seek to increase its capabilities to counter China, with the help of the US.

"Today, India needs the US more than at any time in its history," Joshi said.

"The range of US defence equipment now in the inventory of the Indian military was visible during last year's build-up on the border with China," he added

Recently, India announced the purchase of US$3 billion worth of armed Predator drones, or medium-altitude aircraft for performing surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

But India's purchase of high-end defence equipment from the US has also created problems for its defence relationship with Russia.

For instance, in 2017 the US imposed sanction on countries sourcing Russian defence equipment under CAATSA, or Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

"One of the major issues for New Delhi would be to find a way out of these sanctions whenever Russia delivers the S-400 missile defence systems to New Delhi," Joshi said, referring to the Russian-developed anti-aircraft weapon system.

Wilson Center's Kugelman said that since Afghanistan was a pressing issue for Washington, Austin might make a pitch to India on how it could contribute to the peace process. Timothy Heath, senior international defence researcher at the Rand Corporation, said while the US was eager to reduce its presence in the country, India favoured a continued American presence to promote stability.

"A possible compromise might be for the US to delay the withdrawal of some troops," Heath said, referring to a deal reached in February last year between the Taliban and the Donald Trump
administration that all foreign troops would be withdrawn from the country by May 1. A full US withdrawal in Afghanistan would result in the Taliban playing a larger role in Afghan politics, an unappealing prospect to India as its assets in the war-torn country have often been targeted by the Haqqani group, a major Taliban faction.

Analysts said they would be watching for Beijing's reaction to Austin's meetings, with Rityusha Mani Tiwary, an assistant professor at the University of Delhi's Shaheed Bhagat Singh College saying the visit could affect Sino-Indian ties.

"Counter alliances may be expected on the part of China especially if India and the US take their military cooperation to a deeper level," Tiwary said.

On a recent threat by China's nationalistic tabloid Global Times warning that India's "courtship" with the Quad would worsen India-China relations and affect the development of regional groupings such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) spearheaded by China and the BRICS, Wilson Center's Kugelman said India could well find itself on a collision course with China when it comes to their roles in regional and global organisations.

"If China sees the Quad and Indo Pacific policies as an increasing threat, it may try to undercut India's role in the BRICS and SCO and other organizations where both countries are members," noted Kugelman, adding that this dynamic would also depend on broader India-China relations.

"If the relationship continues to struggle, then China would certainly have an incentive to push back against India in multilateral settings, and all bets would be off," Kugelman said.

Joshi said that to expect India to be mindful of the interests of regional organisations over those of Delhi's – implied in the Global Times' threat – was "expecting too much from India".

"India embraced SCO and BRICS to provide for a multilateral world order when prospects of accommodation with Beijing were positive. When Beijing's actions suggested otherwise, India moved to the Quad. It is not as if only China can play the realpolitik game," Joshi added.
BRICS head office in Mumbai? (Головной офис БРИКС в Мумбаи?) / India, March, 2021
Keywords: sustainable_development, expert_opinion

By Manjeet Kripalani

Globally, metropolitan cities are becoming powerful centres that sustain entire countries—just like London sustains the UK. Life is increasingly urban: over 30% of India is urban, and by 2030 nearly 600 million Indians will be urban. In the EU, 70% of the citizens live in cities.

Mumbaikars yearn to elevate their city to the position it held a decade ago, when people mentioned "Dubai, Mumbai and Shanghai" in the same breath. It's time for Mumbai to return to its global positioning.

The government has moved beyond the rhetoric of rural politics and is focusing on cities and urbanisation. In developing countries, this is where meaningful change can occur, where growth is neither seamless nor equal. Cities are functioning pockets that attract talent and can have a strong demonstration effect. Here, cities like Mumbai can be role models. Nairobi, Kinshasa or even Bhubaneswar can't become Singapore, Shanghai or Dubai, but they can become Mumbai.

If Mumbai succeeds, there is hope for others.

So how can Mumbai get there? Governance and infrastructure are difficult to change, but we can work backwards—by aiming high, and then under strict standards stitching the infrastructure and governance together. The proven method is to host an international institution or event. Given this, Mumbai is the perfect home for the BRICS headquarters.

One, this will be the first multilateral institution located in India, and will bring expertise, talent, funding and standards. Multilaterals also bring an engagement with international leaders, the practice of economic diplomacy and a better understanding of multilateral negotiation. They bring tourism, jobs and additional revenue: the UN headquarters bring New York City additional revenue of over $1 billion a year from the 1 million annual visitors to the UN.

Two, Mumbai has the necessary criteria to host the BRICS headquarters. According to a survey (Forbes) on what makes cities globally influential, Joel Kotkin listed air connectivity, diversity, FDI, corporate headquarters, producer services, financial services, technology and media, and industry dominance. Mumbai scores over other BRICS cities in each, with international connectivity, sharing overlapping working hours and being within an eight-hour radius of other BRICS countries, except Brazil.

On FDI, Maharashtra is the second highest and Mumbai has received highest FDI inflows in the past 20 years, holds 6% of India's GDP, 30% of tax revenues, 40% of foreign trade and 25% of industrial production.

Mumbai is home to the largest number of corporate headquarters in India, and two major ports. It hosts India's top legal, accounting and consulting firms. RBI is trusted and has the most sophisticated financial system over any other BRICS countries. The Bombay Stock Exchange is the oldest in Asia; its 5,000 companies have a joint market capitalisation of over $2.8 trillion, while the government-owned National Stock Exchange brings in $2.5 trillion.

Mumbai also faces issues pertinent to developing countries: unruly urbanisation, overpopulation, poverty and security challenges, making it the perfect laboratory for the BRICS project.

A physical location is available: Along the city's eastern seaboard, in the 773 acres of picturesque port area along the Victoria and Princess Docks which are up for redevelopment. The BRICS headquarters and secretariat can be located between the stately RBI and the heritage Naval headquarters.

India has long been critical of the Washington Consensus, and western domination of institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. The BRICS headquarters can begin a conversation about a BRICS Consensus, with its more equitable formation. The intermingling of multilateral bureaucrats with Mumbai's no-nonsense business folk will ensure policy pragmatism. Its citizens are ready to become partners in India's diplomacy.

No multilateral institution, especially one as world-changing as BRICS, can succeed without a physical headquarters. The Percy Committee Report of 2007 plans to make Mumbai an international financial centre. Linking that with the upcoming Bangalore-Mumbai corridor will develop the eastern seaboard like London's Dockyards, or Shanghai's Bund.

The Maharashtra government and Delhi can back this plan. It will give Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray the status of visionary global leaders—beyond just the BRICS.
Pulling together (Собирая все силы) / China, March, 2021
Keywords: covid-19, expert_opinion

BRICS countries should strengthen their coordination as international cooperation is the only way to bring the pandemic under control

LUO JIE/CHINA DAILY The sobering global pandemic data call attention to how a country's political and social organization has been crucial to its performance in the battle against the novel coronavirus. Countries in Europe and the Americas have the worst indicators, with death rates per million above 1,000, while countries in East and Southeast Asia have averaged below 100, except Indonesia (131) and the Philippines (111). China, for example, has a death rate of just three deaths per million inhabitants, reflecting its success in mobilizing its population and the adoption of effective measures to prevent the spread of the virus in the country. The result of this is that the country was the only G20 economy to register positive GDP growth last year, making it a lifeline for the battered world economy, which has been hard hit by the economic slowdowns of the United States and the developed Western European economies.

In Brazil, the situation worsens every day, with the second wave of infections surpassing the worst moments of the first, which occurred in mid-2020. On March 12, Brazil broke the record for daily deaths, counting 2,286 victims, according to the World Health Organization. On that day, the death rate per million exceeded 1,200. To make matters worse, the circulation of new strains of the virus, such as P1, a Brazilian variant, has dramatically increased the transmission speed. Today, scientists do not know how effective the vaccines will be against the virus' mutations.

As in the Western countries, the Brazilian government and society failed to adopt strict and effective measures to curb transmission of the virus. There has been a lack of coordination between the central government and the states and municipalities. While President Jair Bolsonaro continues to minimize the seriousness of the pandemic, encouraging gatherings of people and discouraging the use of face masks, mayors and governors are under pressure from groups allied to President Bolsonaro to relax social distancing requirements. Besides the ongoing health emergency, the economy has not been able to recover from the setbacks of 2020 and it has an unemployment rate of almost 30 percent.

Meanwhile, mass vaccination, the only measure that can control the spread of the virus, is proceeding at a very slow pace. Since the first person was inoculated on Jan 17, just 3.5 percent of the population has received the first dose, and only 1 percent has received the second dose. At this rate it will not be until the end of 2022 that everyone in Brazil will have been inoculated. Brazil has not developed its own vaccine and depends on international collaboration for its immunization program. In this regard, it's worth mentioning the partnership between the Chinese company Sinovac and the Butantan Institute in Sao Paulo in the research, development, production and distribution of the CoronaVac vaccine. Today, this vaccine represents almost 90 percent of all doses administered in Brazil. In this sense, the Chinese embassy in Brasilia has endeavored to guarantee the local supply of vaccines and supplies in coordination with the central government and Sao Paulo.

China's success in its fight against the virus has allowed the country to adopt a proactive stance on the international stage, not only with regard to the supply of medical equipment and hospital supplies but also providing vaccines to many countries and regions of the world. In contrast, in countries such as those in Europe and the United States, where the virus is still uncontrolled, vaccines developed by their companies are being prioritized for their respective populations, while the number of people vaccinated in these countries remains low. Consequently, the volume of vaccines from companies such as AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson& Johnson and Pfizer-BioNTech exported to developing countries is residual. In contrast, China, Russia and India have been sharing their vaccines with countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

It is important to emphasize that, in Brazil's case, the situation would have been better if the country had engaged in greater cooperation with the World Health Organization and the other BRICS countries.

Specifically, China, Russia and India, which along with Brazil and South Africa comprise BRICS, are at the forefront in developing and producing vaccines. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Chinese government has emphasized that the country's vaccines would be considered a global public good. India and South Africa, in turn, proposed in the World Trade Organization, in October 2020, the suspension of patents and intellectual property rights for vaccines and medicines to combat COVID-19. Unfortunately, the Brazilian government has aligned itself with the rich countries that refuted the measure that could give hope to most of humanity.

In this regard, it is worth noting that, since 2016, interactions between the BRICS countries have been significantly reduced. Under Bolsonaro in Brazil and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, the BRICS countries have lessened their political coordination in international forums. The group's agenda has focused on economic issues, notably the management of the New Development Bank.

At this juncture, when Brazil has become the epicenter of the pandemic and rich countries are only concerned with solving their own problems, it is urgent for the Brazilian government to reestablish cooperation with developing countries, mainly with the other members of BRICS. This group of developing countries has played a key role in global governance at other crucial moments, such as in 2008 facing the global financial crisis, and in 2015 to build consensus during the Paris Climate Change Conference. Strengthening coordination within BRICS is crucial to counter the pandemic and create a fair and secure multilateral order.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Women and Child Development Ministry to seek ₹37,000 crore loan to execute schemes (Министерство по делам женщин и детей запросит ссуду в 37 000 крор для реализации схем) / India, March, 2021
Keywords: investments, social_issues

Ministry plans research centre on child development.

The Women and Child Development Ministry plans to seek loans totalling ₹37,179 crore from five different multinational development banks to implement new and existing schemes, including a research centre on child development as well as plantation of 200 million trees under mission Kalpatru to eradicate malnutrition.

The Ministry has sent its proposals to the Department of Economic Affairs for approval and the documents have been reviewed by The Hindu.

The Ministry is planning to apply for a loan of ₹14,600 crore from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, ₹11,550 crore from Japan International Cooperation Agency, ₹7,300 crore from New Development Bank (formerly BRICS Development Bank), ₹3,650 crore from Asian Development Bank and ₹79 crore from GIZ (German Development Cooperation). Each of these funds have been sought for a period of four years and 11 months from April 2021 to March 2026.

The additional support cover the entire gamut of programmes under the Ministry, including safety of women, child protection and delivery of nutrition. The Ministry received ₹24,435 crore in the Budget for financial year 2022.

It is already implementing Poshan Abhiyaan or Nutrition Mission at a cost of ₹9,000 crore for three years from 2017, half of which is funded through a World Bank loan.

The Ministry has sought a loan of ₹11,550 crore from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which will be supplemented by another ₹11,550 from the Centre. The total amount of ₹23,100 crore will be spent on yet to be announced Mission Kalpatru, under which the government plans to plant 200 million trees as "food forests" for long-term nutritional requirements. It will also establish 14 million Poshan Vatikas (Nutrition Gardens) at all anganwadis in the country, conduct awareness and assign community ownership of the food forests. This, it says, will ensure easier access to fresh produce and promote Atmanirbhar Bharat.

With a funding of ₹14,600 crore from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Ministry aims to augment the infrastructure of its various institutions, including 'One Stop Centres' for survivors of gender-based violence, anganwadis and children's homes. This will include water supply, electricity back-up, provision for stoves, digital infrastructure for last-mile connectivity. The Ministry plans to rope in the private sector for maintenance of these facilities.

With a loan of ₹7,300 crore from the New Development Bank, too, the Ministry plans an infrastructure upgrade vis-a-vis sanitation, setting up child-friendly toilets, provision of safe disposal of sanitary napkins and ensuring awareness about health and sanitation measures.

With a loan of ₹3,650 crore from the Asian Development Bank, also matched by the Central government, the Ministry aims to focus on early childhood education, adolescent development programmes, child protection and adoption services. The Ministry has mooted a national child development resource centre for research, design, outcome tracking, service delivery support and development of curriculum for activity-based learning at anganwadis at children's homes.

The loan of ₹79 crore from GIZ will be spent on nutritional development of women and children through implementation of nutrition gardens and adoption of AYUSH measures and traditional wisdom.
NDB Board of Directors Approved Beijing Gas Tianjin Nangang Lng Emergency Reserve Project (Совет директоров НБР одобрил проект по созданию аварийного резерва газа) / China, March, 2021
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges

On March 9, 2021, the Board of Directors of the New Development Bank (NDB) approved a loan of EUR 436 million (equivalent to RMB 3.4 billion) to the People's Republic of China for Beijing Gas Tianjin Nangang LNG Emergency Reserve Project.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving, storage and regasification facilities, as well as an unloading wharf will be constructed under the Project.

The objective of the Project is to increase natural gas emergency supply capacity, reduce reliance on coal and ultimately support low-carbon and sustainable development of the regional economy. The Project will contribute to bridging considerable gaps between natural gas demand and supply in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, where natural gas supply for the peak consumption seasons, such as the winter period, now cannot be ensured. Moreover, the Project is also expected to generate a considerable positive health impact.

The Project is expected to reduce coal consumption by 11.90 million tonnes annually, resulting in a considerable reduction in emissions of CO2, SO2, NOx and particulate matters in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

The Project will be implemented over five years by Beijing Gas Group Co. Ltd.

The total cost of the Project is estimated at RMB 13.8 billion. The NDB will finance EUR 436 million (equivalent to RMB 3.4 billion) or about 25% of the total cost. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has also provided USD 500 million (equivalent to RMB 3.3 billion) to the project.

Background Information

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. According to the NDB's General Strategy, sustainable infrastructure development is at the core of the Bank's operational strategy for 2017-2021. The NDB received AA+ long-term issuer credit ratings from S&P and Fitch and AAA foreign currency long-term issuer rating from Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) and Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA).

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
India presses for protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge at BRICS CGETI (Индия настаивает на защите генетических ресурсов и традиционных знаний в БРИКС CGETI) / India, March, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, pharmacy, covid-19

India has put forth a cooperation framework for protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. In the wake of an aggressive effort to encourage traditional medicine knowledge for the treatment of Covid-19, the country has several instances where the science of Ayurveda was adopted both as a preventive and therapeutic intervention during this ongoing pandemic. In the area of plant genetics too, India sees that this area too is of considerable economic and social value.

At the recently concluded 15th edition of the BRICS Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues (CGETI) under the chairmanship of India from March 9 to March 11, 2021, India had requested for waiver for all WTO (World Trade Organisation) members on certain provisions of copyrights, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information in the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement for prevention, containment and treatment of Covid-19.

"We must protect our traditional knowledge rather than reinventing the wheel. It has been observed that we have evidence based information in our traditional science. Unfortunately they are not archived, which raised certain controversies. We must try to retrieve them and bring them back to the mainstream," Prof Bejon Kumar Misra, founder, Patient Safety and Access and founder, Mahamana Declaration on Ayurveda told Pharmabiz.

On a similar note was Dr DBA Narayana, chief scientific officer, Ayurvide Trust, who said, "Protection of traditional knowledge and inventive steps over and above that documented ones needs to be given protection. This has been the demand of the sector and scientists. India's leadership has been demonstrated by the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL). Other nations in the BRICS can pick up the models of protecting yet promoting innovation for the good of their people. Lot more work is to be done in this area and the BRICS discussion are in the right direction."

The 3-day BRICS event focused on priority areas for deliverables, schedule and scope of the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). This is because this segment of the industry is the backbone for every country' economic growth. MSMEs are known to enable both export led growth and employment generation.

An official statement from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that each of the sessions was then followed by detailed feedback sessions. At the BRICS event, India and South Africa, supported by the 57 WTO members, sought a temporary waiver of global intellectual property pacts to ensure uninterrupted flow of vaccines amid the ongoing pandemic.

Viewing that the IPRs (intellectual property rights) for Covid-19 vaccines like for instance Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna's were seen as a bottleneck for access by the developing world, India has been calling to forsake the IPR aspect at the WTO meet held in December 2020.

In addition, the deliverables proposed are on BRICS Cooperation on Multilateral Trading System including cooperation for the TRIPS waiver proposal at WTO, Framework for Consumer Protection in E commerce, Non Tariff Measures Resolution Mechanism, Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary working mechanism, cooperation framework for protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge and BRICS framework on Cooperation in Professional Services.

The action plan is based on the document strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025 adopted during the Russian presidency in 2021 in another deliverable proposed. Between March and September 2021, inter-sessional deliberations will be conducted to arrive at a consensus among the BRICS countries.
World of Work
A bibliometric study on the research outcome of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (Библиометрическое исследование результатов исследований в Бразилии, России, Индии, Китае и Южной Африке) / India, March, 2021
Keywords: research


Background: Publication is one of the quantitative measures of countries' contribution to research and innovation. This paper attempts to understand the publication related information of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

Methods: Detailed analysis of publications on the basis of collaboration, research area, number of publications, percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spent on research, and citation is presented in the paper. An attempt is also made to understand the relations between each of the parameters and the overall performance of the country.

Results: Times Higher Education global ranking is considered as a measure to validate the claims of this paper.

This study shows that among the BRICS nations, China with the highest percentage of GDP spent on research has also the highest number of researchers and publication output whereas South Africa excels in terms of number of international collaborative publications and publications in high impact journals. This article has highlighted the distribution of publications as per the subject area with India leading in the area of Computer Science.

Discussion: Results showed a strong relationship between each of the parameters discussed on the research performance of a country.
Determinants of material footprint in BRICS countries: an empirical analysis (Детерминанты материального следа в странах БРИКС: эмпирический анализ) / India, March, 2021
Keywords: research


This paper explores the relationship between renewable energy consumption, urbanization, human capital, trade, natural resources, and material footprint for BRICS countries from 1990 to 2016. We apply the cross-sectional dependency test to check the correlation among the cross-section. Then, we use the second-generation panel test like CADF and CIPS to check the stationary in the series. After that, we go for the panel cointegration test, i.e., Pedroni and Westerlund panel cointegration, to know the long-run relationship of the variables. The test results reject the null hypothesis of no cointegration among the variables and accept cointegration. The long-run results indicate that economic growth, natural resources, renewable energy, and urbanization have reduced the environmental quality for BRICS countries in case of material footprint employed to measure environmental degradation. However, foreign trade and human capital improve environmental quality. Based on the empirical results, the study recommended some important policy suggestions to achieve sustainable development in BRICS countries.
BRICS CCI WE Rural Women Empowerment Awards Presented (Вручение наград BRICS CCI WE Rural Women Empowerment Awards) / India, March, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, rating

Smt. Usha Chaumar, President, Sulabh International Social Service Organisation and Smt. Asha Jha, Madhubani painting artist and rural entrepreneur were honoured with the BRICS CCI WE Rural Women Empowerment Awards at the BRICS CCI WE Women in AtmaNirbhar Bharat Summit held in the capital. Shri Sasmit Patra, Hon'ble MP, Rajya Sabha, Shri Ram Mohan Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development and Smt. Sonal Goel, Special Resident Commissioner, Tripura Bhawan and Smt. Sangeeta Gupta, Retd. Income Tax Commissioner, Govt. of India felicitated the rural entrepreneurs and other women achievers across various fields in the presence of Mr. BBL Madhukar, Director General, BRICS CCI, Mr. Vishwas Tripathi, Chairman, BRICS CCI, Mr. Sameep Shastri, Vice Chairman, BRICS CCI, Ms Shabana Nasim, President, BRICS CCI WE, Ms. Ruby Sinha, Convenor, BRICS CCI WE, Ms. Shormishtha Ghosh, Hony. Director, Business Advisory, BRICS CCI and other eminent personalities.

In 2021, India has assumed the Chairmanship of BRICS for the third time. BRICS is based on the spirit of equality, mutual understanding, trust and respect. It offers inclusive and innovative solutions to many longstanding challenges. Among other key focus areas, during its BRICS Chairmanship, India will work towards Women Business Alliance. The event was graced by eminent personalities who shared their views and ideas on women entrepreneurs and professionals being the centre of India's growth story in the post-COVID era.

The Summit was organized BRICS CCI WE in association with Fore School of Management and SheAtWork, a one stop knowledge hub for women entrepreneurs. Distinguished panelists shared their views focused on may topics like Women Leadership of Today, Building Women Leaders of Tomorrow and Building a more Inclusive Workplace for Women. The eminent list of panelists included Ms. Anisha Singh, Founding Partner She Capital, Sqn. Ldr. Prerna Chaturvedi (Veteran), Director and CEO, Evolet India, Mr. Harshvendra Soin, Global Chief People Officer and Head Marketing, Tech Mahindra, Ms. Anna Rybas, Advisor to CEO, SBER BANK, Mr. Avi Mittal, Co-Founder, Golden Ace Ventures, Ms. Shammi Pant, Co-Founder,, Mr. Sanjeeva Shivesh, Founder & CEO, The Entrepreneurship School, Ms. Sriparna Basu- Professor, FORE School of Management, Mr. Ravi Sinha, Former Director, South Asia, Mercer Consulting and Trustee, Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital and Rachida Radjabou, National Public Relations Coordinator, Association of African Students in India delivered their speech in the panel discussion of Women for AtmaNirbhar Bharat.

BRICS Meeting of Customs Experts (Встреча таможенных экспертов БРИКС) / India, March, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, cooperation

India hosted a virtual meeting of BRICS Customs Experts on 16 March 2021, which was attended by Customs Experts of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa. During his inaugural address, Sh. Sandeep M. Bhatnagar, Member (Customs), Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) highlighted the importance of Customs Cooperation among BRICS members on issues such as automated data exchange, capacity building and enforcement. He expressed hope that the Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance (CMAA) in Customs Matters would also be finalized. The Customs Experts made substantial progress in finalizing the text of BRICS CMAA. They also agreed to enhance cooperation by sharing best practices in capacity building. CBIC offered to set up a library on customs matters at its training facility at Bengaluru which was well appreciated. The Customs Experts also agreed on a timetable of other activities including joint enforcement in regard to specified prohibited goods. The BRICS members appreciated the proposals and activities planned by India and assured their support for enhancing Customs Cooperation.
BRICS Meeting of the Deans of Diplomatic Academies (Встреча деканов дипломатических академий БРИКС) / India, March, 2021
Keywords: cooperation, think_tank_council

Under India's Chairship of the BRICS grouping, the first Meeting of the Deans of Diplomatic Academies took place virtually on 16 March 2021 from 1630 – 1845 hrs (IST) on the theme, 'Diplomatic Training in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World'. In his welcome address, Dean (SSIFS) recalled the cooperation MoU among the BRICS Diplomatic Academies from October 2016. This was followed by interventions by the Deans/Heads of Diplomatic Academies of Brazil, China, Russia, South Africa and India sharing their experiences of diplomatic training. They discussed the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the opportunities which have emerged where traditional methodologies of training have been combined with digital and blended learning or hybrid training during the past one year. They also had an exchange of best practices as far as diplomatic training was concerned.

Dean (SSIFS) extended an invitation to all the BRICS partners for the BRICS Young Diplomats' Forum to be held in New Delhi in October 2021. The Deans of the member-countries agreed to increase the exchange of knowledge, experiences and achievements in application of new training methods, the use of technology in training and new training modules/content amongst BRICS member-countries. It was decided that the BRICS Diplomatic Academies would further increase their cooperation including by way of the BRICS Young Diplomats' Forum.

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