Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 30.2021
2021.07.26 — 2021.08.01
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
BRICS Health Ministers' Meeting on Traditional Medicine on Wednesday, AIIA to present Success of Indian System of Medicine in mitigation of COVID-19 (Встреча министров здравоохранения стран БРИКС по народной медицине в среду. AIIA представит успех индийской системы медицины в борьбе с COVID-19) / India, July, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, top_level_meeting

BRICS countries are all prepared to take ahead, incorporate and amplify the Traditional Medicine System in the fight against Covid-19. On Wednesday, BRICS countries will be discussing this particular issue in the virtual event, BRICS-Health Ministers Meeting on Traditional Medicine. The Ministry of AYUSH, GOI, is on the go to present the success of Indian System of Medicine in mitigation of COVID-19 pandemic. The assembly will also be addressed by Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of AYUSH, Government of India, along with other Ministers of respective countries.

India assumed the rotating Chairship of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) on January 1, 2021. India took over the chairship from Russia. Each BRICS member takes over the Chair for a year. In the present meeting Prof. Tanuja Nesari, Director, All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India will present India's side on the role of Indian System of Medicine in mitigating covid-19 pandemic. Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH will deliver an introductory Address.

The theme for this Health Ministers' meet is BRICS Requital to COVID-19: Towards Digitalised Holistic Framework for Pandemic Preparedness.

Riots in South Africa and Role of BRICS (Беспорядки в ЮАР и роль БРИКС) / India, July, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

By Dr Neha Sinha

The recent riots in South Africa have come in the wake of former President Jacob Zuma getting imprisoned for 15 months for defamation of the court. Zuma has been accused of money laundering and corruption, among many other charges during his term as president from 2009 to 2018. His former cabinet ministers including high-ranking government officials and executives have also exposed him to past scandals and corruption. After being taken into custody, Zuma's supporters ran riot in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal which further spread to other provinces of South Africa. Supporters of Zuma not only blocked roads and highways but also used burnt tires and other objects as obstacles which has resulted in many casualties. Linked to him are the three Gupta brothers of Johannesburgh who have, as per reports, escaped to UAE.

Although Zuma is no longer the President of South Africa, his supporters have turned offensive after his surrender to police. The large-scale looting and rioting has resulted in well over 100 deaths, loot and damage of goods worth $1 billion US Dollars. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of rioting and loot, the South African Police and authorities have been forced to call in the Army. Many analysts believe that as there prevails a large scale unemployment in the country and many restrictions due to chronic pandemic – Zuma's arrest is only the trigger for unfolding of the underlying anger.

A large community of Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) living in the country has also been targeted. This has implications for India. There are many South Africans who believe that "Jacob Zuma sold the country to Indian Monopoly Capital". The government of India has extended its assistance to Indians in South Africa as they are the main targets. In a desperate attempt to protect their home and businesses from looting, Indians have now stepped up their fight against the arsonists and looters. Interestingly, two-thirds of the 1.4 million strong Indian-origin population of South Africa lives and works in the KwaZulu-Natal province in Durban. The riots have also tarnished the international image of South Africa as a rainbow nation. Apart from damage to life and property, the impact of these loose mobs moving through streets is going to adversely impact South Africa's fight against COVID. Needless to say, if these riots are not controlled soon, there would be adverse implications for South Africa as a BRICS country.

With the escalation of riots, violence and looting; the issue has gained worldwide attention, and as South Africa is part of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), much is expected from the BRICS countries. South Africa and other member countries of BRICS have agreed to collaborate in various international forums such as the United Nations, India, Brazil, South Africa Dialogue and the G-20 group which can help in bringing peace to the region. Recently, at the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers' Declaration, the five nations of BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa resolved to recover with stronger national economies, inclusive labour markets and social protection systems. India's union minister for labour and employment Bhupender Yadav chaired the virtual BRICS meeting under India's presidency.

With the rise in violence, the alliance with BRICS must be strengthened to establish peace in the country. South Africa can benefit from the agreement that's made between the BRICS nations like that of providing development and financial assistance in time of need, providing security and justice when any nation is in a state of turmoil. South Africa remains dedicated to African Unity and integrates with the structure of the African Union, which focuses on the "strengthening of continental institutions, which are critical in responding to the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment, peace, security and stability on the continent". In the present scenario, it is imperative that BRICS countries ensure peace in the country.

The South Africa government should take steps to curb violence of such magnitude. They should focus on BRICS as a major regional organisation which can help in bringing peace to the region. BRICS is not just an economics based association but it has always focused on the political atmosphere in each of the countries as well. Any kind of violence would give rise to instability in South Africa and it would directly affect all the other BRICS nations too. Therefore, it is very important for BRICS nations to take into consideration matters like these seriously.

Today, it is important for the BRICS countries to promote stability, economic growth, diversity and stop racial discrimination which is prevalent in South Africa. If the problems are not taken seriously, it may lead to the downfall of South Africa's ranking in Ease of Doing Business Index or investments from foreign companies. Companies in BRICS countries wouldn't be further willing to expand business in South Africa, which would again affect the overall principles of BRICS association.

South Africa, an integral part of BRICS, has been considered to be the entry point for all developmental initiatives in the African continent. In light of this, South Africa needs to tread ahead cautiously. The government should take appropriate measures to curb the current riots along with other political bottlenecks soon. BRICS as an organisation should support South Africa in all its endeavours in regaining the much sought after social, political and economic stability and come up as an example for other strife-stricken African countries.

Neha Sinha is a Doctorate from Center for African Studies, JNU, New Delhi.
BRICS states to set up vaccine research and development center in virtual format (Страны БРИКС создадут центр исследований и разработок вакцин в виртуальном формате) / Russia, July, 2021
Keywords: covid-19, cooperation, social_issues

The sides recognized the necessity of setting upgraded lab facilities for genome sequencing of the pathogens and an enhanced data sharing mechanism of genome sequencing

NEW DELHI, July 29. /TASS/. BRICS member-states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) intend to establish a joint vaccine research and development center in a virtual format due to the ongoing pandemic of the coronavirus infection, according to the joint statement released following the BRICS health ministers' meeting organized by India as a country chairing the group of five countries this year.

"We recall the proposal of establishment of a 'BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre' as stated in Johannesburg Declaration 2018 and reiterated in Moscow Declaration 2020. Given the non-feasibility of an in-person collaboration in view of the ongoing pandemic scenario and in order to sustain the momentum for collaboration towards research and development of vaccines, we will undertake the launch of 'BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre' in a virtual format," according to the statement published on Thursday.

The participants of the meeting noted that they are deeply concerned about the need for fair and equitable access to safe, efficacious, and affordable vaccines for COVID-19 to curtail the pandemic, and they pledge to make concerted efforts to deliver on the BRICS leaders' commitment to extensive immunization as a global public.

"We understand the need to institute an BRICS Integrated Early Warning System for preventing mass infectious diseases risks," the statement said. "We are interested in a collaboration through institutional multidisciplinary network public council comprising of the leading epidemiologists, infectious diseases specialists, bacteriologists and virologists in BRICS countries to cease threatening high-risk pathogens before progression in to a pandemic," according to the document.

Moreover, the sides recognized the necessity of setting upgraded lab facilities for genome sequencing of the pathogens and an enhanced data sharing mechanism of genome sequencing.

The participants of the meeting also acknowledged "the value and importance of traditional and alternative systems of medicine as means of achieving comprehensive healthcare", and noted "the need of experience and knowledge-sharing for securing public health needs.".

6th Meeting of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Working Group (6-е заседание Контртеррористической рабочей группы БРИКС) / India, July, 2021
Keywords: national_security, terrorism, top_level_meeting

The 6th meeting of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Working Group (CTWG) was held virtually on 28-29 July 2021 under the Chairship of India. Mr. Mahaveer Singhvi, Joint Secretary for Counter Terrorism, Ministry of External Affairs chaired the meeting. Senior counter terrorism officials from all BRICS countries participated in the meeting.

The main outcome of the Working Group meeting was the finalisation of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan containing specific measures to implement the BRICS Counter Terrorism Strategy adopted by BRICS Leaders in 2020. The Action Plan is aimed at further strengthening result-oriented cooperation between BRICS countries in areas such as preventing and combating terrorism, radicalisation, financing of terrorism, misuse of internet by terrorists, curbing travel of terrorists, border control, protection of soft targets, information sharing, capacity building, international and regional cooperation etc.

The BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan is one of the key deliverables during India's Chairship of BRICS and will be adopted at the meeting of BRICS National Security Advisors scheduled next month.

During the Working Group meeting, while condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations whenever, wherever and by whomsoever committed, the BRICS countries also exchanged views on terrorism threat assessment at national, regional and global level and resolved to further enhance counter terrorism cooperation in line with the Action Plan.

The BRICS Counter Terrorism Working Group meeting was preceded by virtual meetings of the five thematic sub-working groups on Misuse of Internet for Terrorist Purpose, Deradicalization, Countering Terrorist Financing, Capacity Building and Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters on 26-27 July 2021.
Inaugural Address by Minister of State, Dr. R. R. Singh, Ministry of External Affairs at the BRICS Civil Forum 2021 (Речь по случаю открытия Гражданского форума БРИКС-202 министра д-ра Р. Р. Сингха, Министерство иностранных дел) / India, July, 2021
Keywords: speech, top_level_meeting

Excellencies, Distinguished participants and my dear friends,

Let me begin with quoting Hon'ble PM Modi Ji who said, "Democracy is not any agreement, it is about participation". The Civil platform is a tool providing opportunity to interact with the vibrant civil society and making the BRICS process more participatory.

It gives me immense pleasure to interact with you for the first time at the BRICS Civil Forum 2021.

I thank RIS and the presenters from CSOs from BRICS countries for their insightful remarks. It has been a good start to this two day event. Your thoughts, ideas and perspectives are important inputs for structuring the BRICS agenda.

Today, we meet in the shadow of the pandemic that has fundamentally changed the way we think and work. While I would have preferred to interact with such an intellectual gathering in in-person format, we are forced to meet virtually.

Pandemic has put a lot of stress globally not only on the medical infrastructure but its social and economic impacts have also been very substantive. Even after almost 20 months the pandemic refuses to relent. It has highlighted the inter-connectedness of the world and the need to combat such challenges together.

I take this opportunity to thank the frontline organisations and workers and which in many cases are the Civil Society Organisations, who have worked tirelessly to help others in need. There have been many heart-warming stories and lessons from across countries including India on how civil society and communities have enabled timely delivery of response in demanding situations like disasters and pandemics.

Civil Societies represent the collective conscience of our peoples. In these difficult times the role of our Civil Societies assumes even greater relevance to amplify the collective voice of peoples for the welfare and benefit of people.

In order to advance the objective of building an international order in which no one is left behind, participation of every actor, including individuals, civil society, states and multilateral fora, is required.

Covid-19 Pandemic has eroded years of gains and as per reports millions have been pushed back into poverty globally. We have entered the decade of action for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We feel that CSOs have a very important role to play particularly for enhancing the participation of women and youth. Civil society organizations have been playing an important role in localization of efforts towards achievement of SDGs and in strengthening local capacities.

Recognizing the role of the people based movement reaching upto the grassroots in economic development, our Government has created a new Ministry of Cooperation. This is expected to usher in a new era for these organizations and the role they play in empowering our citizens.

BRICS brings together five major emerging economies, comprising 42% of the world population, almost 30% of the land area, 24% of global GDP and over 16% of world trade. The five nations represent the voice of the developing world. BRICS, which completes 15 years this year, has increased its agenda from humble beginning to scores of sectors spread across the three pillars of political and security; economic and financial; and cultural and people to people exchanges.

India values its cooperation with BRICS, which incidentally is the only grouping to have its own Development Bank, and a safety net of Contingent Reserve Arrangement.

However, it is also critical that just as we congratulate ourselves on our achievements, we also pause to take stock of the gaps that exist and review our work and working methods to make BRICS more effective and efficient. India as the Chair of BRICS for 2021 has been working for further strengthening the intra-BRICS cooperation under the theme of Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus and the four broad priority 3 areas: (i) Reform of the Multilateral System (ii) Counter Terrorism Cooperation (iii) Using Digital and Technological Solutions for the achievement of SDGs and (iv) Enhancing People to People exchanges.

In June this year, BRICS Foreign Ministers came out with a joint statement calling for strengthening and reforming the multilateral system. Last year BRICS partners had also adopted a BRICS Counter Terrorism Strategy. Our experts are working closely to come up with practical action plan in this regard.

India has always been a proponent for promoting intra-BRICS People-to-people cooperation. PM Modi's leadership has been decisive in this regard and has resulted in many P2P initiatives including BRICS games, BRICS film festivals, youth engagements etc. Despite the pandemic we have tried to maintain the momentum in this track and continue with the meetings of BRICS Civil Forum, BRICS Parliamentary Forum, BRICS Academic Forum, BRICS Youth Summit, BRICS Business Forum, BRICS Women's Business Alliance etc.

As Chair, we have also taken the initiative to undertake a comprehensive Stock-Taking and Streamlining exercise this year to examine BRICS institutions and mechanisms across the three pillars of our cooperation. As part of this exercise, we have collectively revised the Terms of Reference for BRICS.

I have been given to understand that ever since its launch in 2015, BRICS Civil Forum, has been actively fostering constructive dialogue between a variety of stakeholders, most prominently Civil Society Organisations and academia in BRICS countries on a wide range of cross-cutting socio-economic issues to promote inclusive and sustainable development.

I also understand that during our previous Chairship of BRICS in 2016, India hosted the 2nd BRICS Civil Forum in New Delhi that was instrumental in forging a deeper engagement among Civil Society Organisations of BRICS countries.

This year, with efforts of RIS the horizon of BRICS Civil Forum has expanded further. During the BRICS Civil Forum process 2021, several important themes and topics relevant for BRICS cooperation have been covered including Reformed Multilateralism; Development Finance and Global Public Goods; Pandemic Response, Partnership and Role of Civil Society; Wellness, Health and 4 Traditional Systems of Medicines in BRICS; BRICS Economies and Women's Participation; Quality of Economic Growth and Inclusion; and Future of Education and Skills.

I am happy to note that through these dialogues, there have been strong calls for reforming various multilateral institutions, including the UN Security Council, WTO, WHO, IMF etc, to make the global governance architecture more representative, inclusive and participatory. I am pleased to see that several recommendations have also emerged to strengthen and deepen intra-BRICS collaborations on social sector development and wellbeing. The CSOs have also called upon BRICS countries to collaborate to create and nurture Global Public Goods and digital solutions for the welfare of their citizens and humanity at large, for the achievement of SDGs.

I feel that it would be useful to further consolidate the BRICS Civil Forum process so that the learning and partnership becomes more effective, meaningful and enduring. I urge all the key partner institutions to envisage a roadmap and work together towards the realization of a durable mechanism.

I am pleased to note that RIS has launched the BRICS Civil Forum website, which can evolve into a permanent repository and knowledge platform for all BRICS Civil Forum activities in future. I congratulate RIS for organising the BRICS Civil Forum 2021 process very effectively.

I look forward to the BRICS Civil Forum coming up with innovative ideas and suggestions for BRICS Leaders. I wish you a very successful and productive meeting and look forward to receiving valuable suggestions from the Civil Forum.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Second BRICS Finance and Central Bank Deputies Meeting (Вторая встреча министров финансов и Центрального банка БРИКС) / India, July, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting

India hosted the second Meeting of BRICS Finance and Central Bank Deputies virtually on 27 July 2021. The meeting was jointly chaired by Shri. Ajay Seth, Secretary Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Dr. Michael Patra, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India. Participants included BRICS Finance Deputies and Central Bank Deputies of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa.

During the meeting, Shri. Ajay Seth apprised the group on progress made under the BRICS Finance deliverables related to Global Economic Outlook and Response to COVID-19, Social Infrastructure Financing and Use of Digital Technologies, and BRICS Custom Cooperation. Highlighting the crucial role of Intra- BRICS cooperation, Shri Seth emphasized that BRICS discussions will effectively contribute towards ensuring that global discourse on economic recovery is nuanced to take into account the perspective of the developing world and country specific circumstances.

Dr. Patra, the BRICS Central Bank Deputy, led the discussions on BRICS Central Bank issues related to Fintech for MSMEs and Financial Inclusion, Contingent Reserve Arrangement, Information Security and BRICS Payments Task Force (BPTF) during the meeting. BRICS countries expressed their appreciation and extended cooperation and support to India on the progress made under the proposed deliverables.
World of Work
BRICS Civil Forum 2021 - Inauguration (Открытие Гражданского форума БРИКС 2021) / India, July, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, cooperation

Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Hon'ble Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs inaugurated the BRICS Civil Forum 2021 being organized by the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) on July 28 in the virtual format. The two-day event is being organized by India, as BRICS Chair, with an apt focus on 'technology' and 'sustainability in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic that has necessitated faster integration of these two dimensions in policies and their implementation to ensure an inclusive and equitable recovery. BRICS Civil Forum is a recognized and influential People-to-People platform under BRICS cooperation framework.

MOS in his remarks mentioned that India as the Chair of BRICS for 2021 has been working for further strengthening the intra-BRICS cooperation under the theme of Continuity, Consolidation, and Consensus and the four broad priority areas: (i) Reform of the Multilateral System (ii) Counter-Terrorism Cooperation (iii) Using Digital and Technological Solutions for the achievement of SDGs and (iv) Enhancing People to People exchanges. He shared that BRICS Foreign Ministers came out with a joint statement calling for strengthening and reforming the multilateral system in June. He also indicated that the Action Plan for the implementation of BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy is also likely to be finalised soon.

MOS also mentioned that as BRICS completed 15 years this year, India, as Chair, undertook a comprehensive Stock-Taking and Streamlining exercise to examine BRICS institutions and mechanisms. As part of this exercise, BRICS countries have agreed to the revised Terms of Reference for BRICS engagements.

He expressed satisfaction with the dialogues being convened under Civil Forum 2021 on 'reformed multilateralism'; 'development finance and global public goods'; 'pandemic response, partnership and role of civil society; 'wellness, health and traditional systems of medicines in BRICS'; 'BRICS economies and women's participation; 'quality of economic growth and inclusion'; 'future of education and skills'; 'role of technology in promoting inclusive development and entrepreneurship in BRICS'; 'people's participation in sustainability, etc. He appreciated the strong calls for reforming various multilateral institutions, including the UN Security Council, WTO, WHO, IMF, etc, to make the global governance architecture more representative, inclusive, and participatory. He also noted that the CSOs have also called upon BRICS countries to collaborate to create and nurture Global Public Goods and digital solutions for the welfare of their citizens and humanity at large, for the achievement of SDGs.

The inaugural session also witnessed comments from leading Civil Society Organisations (CSO) from BRICS countries. This was followed by two plenary sessions – on 'Inclusive Development and Promotion of Entrepreneurship in BRICS: Role of Technology', and 'People's Participation on Sustainability: The BRICS Experience'.

He also noted that as part of the 'consolidation of the BRICS Civil Forum process' for firming up a roadmap to ensure an effective, meaningful, and enduring outreach, learning, and partnership between BRICS countries, the BRICS Civil Forum website was launched by the host institution, the RIS. The website aims to be a permanent repository and knowledge platform for all BRICS Civil Forum activities. The institutionalized platform will be a BRICS 'ideas bank' that can offer critical inputs on international issues and suggest concrete policy measures.
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