Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 31.2021
2021.08.02 — 2021.08.08
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Briefing by Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry Information and Press Department Alexander Bikantov, Moscow, August 5, 2021 (Брифинг заместителя директора ДИП МИД России А.М.Бикантова, Москва, 5 августа 2021 года) / Russia, August, 2021
Keywords: quotation, mofa, political_issues

Question: Are the sanctions and pressure being put on Russia affecting partner relations between the BRICS states?

Alexander Bikantov: I believe that we have already developed herd immunity against such sanctions pressure. We continue to work on building up cooperation between these five countries, primarily in the economy. Statistics speak for themselves: during the first five months of 2021, Russia's trade with BRICS countries increased by 26.7 percent year on year, up to nearly $57 billion.

Our group rejects international communication at the level of illegal, coercive measures adopted contrary to UN Security Council decisions. We regard such measures as elements of unfair competition designed to hinder the development in the egoistical geopolitical interests of some states. They appear to be part of the collective West's policy of building a "rules-based international order," under which the fundamental norms of international law can be violated, including through interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The use of such underhanded methods is short-sighted, at the very least. And the efficiency of these instruments is questionable. In addition, this is hindering global growth and curtailing the possibilities of the countries that adopt such unsubstantiated sanctions.

Address by External Affairs Minister at the inaugural session of BRICS Academic Forum (Выступление министра иностранных дел на открытии Академического форума БРИКС) / India, August, 2021
Keywords: speech, top_level_meeting, think_tank_council

Dr Samir Saran, Dr Sachin Chaturvedi, Dear friends,

1. In 2021, BRICS turns 15. In human terms, this is young adulthood, with thoughts shaped and a world view concretised, and with a growing sense of responsibilities. As such, India's presidency of BRICS comes at such an inflection point for this grouping.

2. But the context is important for the global system as well. This is most tellingly felt in the pandemic that has devastated economies and societies. The juncture then is pregnant with challenges as well as opportunities. The role of the BRICS countries, of the ideas, strategies and policies they contribute, has never been so apparent.

3. The birth of BRICS was an implicit recognition that the post-war order had peaked. Emerging economies needed to step up to craft a new developmental framework. Each of us was well placed to do this, to share our experiences – in some measures or the other – with partner countries of but not limited to the global South. We intuitively understood that the dominance moment at the end of the Cold War could not be sustained. BRICS was a response to the search for diversity; in many ways, it was an accurate anticipation of multipolarity.

4. So, let us therefore remember that counter-dominance instinct and principled commitment to multipolarity in all forms – political and economic, academic and institutional, social and cultural – is written into the DNA of BRICS. It was in this spirit of independence and complementarity that India co-founded BRICS. We are confident that this sentiment will continue to define not just BRICS but the larger template for coming decades of the 21st century. BRICS is a statement of global rebalancing that underlines its essential diversity and pluralism.

5. Now, India's presidency of BRICS is underpinned by four pillars – reform of the multilateral system; counter-terrorism cooperation; technological and digital solutions for Sustainable Development Goals; and enhancing P2P (people to people) cooperation. These pillars may seem abstract or even perennial, but each one of them actually has an explicit, real-world meaning.

6. An updating and recalibration of the post-World War II multilateral architecture cannot be postponed any further. The pandemic and the normative breakdown in its wake have rudely reminded us that institutions built to tackle problems of the 1940s desperately need to be upgraded and made fit-for-purpose for our century.

7. An expansion of the permanent membership of the Security Council is a necessary ingredient. But by itself it is not sufficient. Multilateral institutions have been disadvantaged by structural inertia, competitive gridlocks, uneven resourcing and skewed navigation. The proliferation of new and smaller platforms, including of plurilateral and regional groups, is therefore a response to such felt gaps. BRICS itself was actually among the earliest in this regard. Too often, we obsess with one or the other response; more effort and action is actually required to fill the gaps.

8. Terrorism thrives in some of these gaps. Its nursery lies in conflict-ridden spaces made fertile for radicalisation by malign players, including states. The transition in Afghanistan that we are seeing today and the warfare that has yet again been forced upon its people has sharpened this challenge. Left unattended, its edge will be deeply felt not just in Afghanistan's neighbourhood but well beyond. We are therefore all stakeholders in the quest for a clear, coordinated and undifferentiated response to terrorism. In the 21st century, legitimacy cannot be derived from mass violence, brutal intimidation or covert agendas. Representation, inclusion, peace and stability are inextricably linked.

9. Emerging technologies, most strikingly digital technology and the energies of the Internet, are a force multiplier in any avenue of human endeavour. As we have learnt to our cost, these can also become an instrument for sources of extremism and motivated misinformation. For us in India, digital tools have proved invaluable in pushing back the pandemic. In the year-and-a-half of living and coping with the Covid-19, they have accelerated contact tracing, vaccine delivery, online and mobile-based diagnosis; and targeted delivery of welfare. India's 800/400 accomplishment i.e. food rations for 800 million people and cash transfers to 400 million – has been streamlined by digitally-enabled technology. The surge in online education has also been noteworthy.

10. Many of these empirical experiences will stay with us beyond the pandemic. For example, the catalytic implications of technology in the realisation of SDGs are there for us to recognise. The pandemic has demanded a price in terms of economic growth and has challenged SDG timelines. Technology could help us now recover ground and time. India is optimistic on this score, and ready to share what it has harnessed, innovated and learnt in these last years.

11. Finally, we come to our people – the principal and most essential stakeholders of BRICS, and in fact of our larger developmental enterprise. The past years has made more of us alive to the limitations of an economic model that posits efficiency and pricing as antithetical to people and community or indeed to livelihoods and sustainability. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for a human-centric globalisation was not just a recognition of pandemic-induced distortions, but in fact of broader inequities. Welfare and well-being of people, families and communities cannot be divorced from the global reset and resilience that is occurring in the long tail of Covid-19.

12. A case in point is the imbalance between the emphasis on IPR in the pharmaceutical industry and the meeting of public health goals. Left untouched, the current practices will only delay the elimination of the pandemic by several years. This is simply not acceptable. But beyond health is a larger economic lesson for the world from the pandemic. The creation of more reliable and resilient supply chains is vital to infuse greater confidence in the global economy and in fact to de-risk it from future pandemics. The global South is particularly vulnerable in that regard. Investments must diversify to provide a certain assurance of sustainability – for livelihoods, for families and communities, and of course for the natural environment.

13. During the course of the year, on the road to this BRICS Academic Forum, scholars from universities and think tanks have deliberated on such issues – specifically on global health, the future of work, climate change, global economic recovery, green energy, trade, and digital public goods, and women-led economic growth. This conference represents the culmination of a rich and substantial intellectual exercise. I look forward to policy prescriptions that can make BRICS more effective and our world more secure. Those two aspirations are symbiotic. A world at peace with itself – across domains – will add to BRICS capacities. And enhanced BRICS capabilities will contribute surely to global well-being.

So I thank you once again, and I convey all the best for the rest of the Forum.

New Delhi
August 03, 2021

World of Work
Scientists from 4 BRICS countries to carry out genomic sequencing, mathematical modelling of COVID-19 pandemic (Ученые из 4 стран БРИКС проведут геномное секвенирование и математическое моделирование пандемии COVID-19) / China, August, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, covid-19, think_tank_council

NEW DELHI - Scientists from four BRICS countries will carry out genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 and studies on the epidemiology and mathematical modeling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Indian officials said here Friday.

The countries include India, China, Russia and Brazil.

"This will help trace genetic mutations, recombinations as well as distribution of the virus and also make projections about the future of its spread," reads a statement issued by India's federal ministry of Science and Technology.

According to the ministry, whole-genome sequencing is required for the identification of genetic mutations and recombinations of the virus, while epidemiological studies can help assess its distribution and mathematical modeling is required to evaluate its future spread.

Officials said under the research supported by the Department of Science and Technology, India and Brazil will assess the distribution of SARS-CoV-2 in environmental samples through metagenome analysis for wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) surveillance, while Chinese and Russian scientists will carry out the Real-Time PCR detection of SARS-CoV-2 in biological material (nasopharyngeal swabs) from patients with symptoms of respiratory diseases and investigate the genomic variability, comparative genomics and phylogenetic analysis.

"The genomic, metagenomic and epidemiological data from India, China, Russia and Brazil will be integrated to develop mathematical models for mutations analysis, population genetics, phylogenetic relationship, recombination analysis and risk evaluation to reveal spread network and dynamics of the virus," the ministry said.

"This can help trace spread routes and dynamics of the virus. The database developed by the different groups will also compare the distribution and survival of the virus in the different regions and establish the surveillance of the relevant early warning system."

Inaugural Address by Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Secretary (CPV&OIA) and BRICS Sherpa at First BRICS Workshop on Digital Forensics (Инаугурационная речь Санджая Бхаттачарьи, секретаря (CPV & OIA) и шерпа БРИКС на Первом семинаре БРИКС по цифровой криминалистике) / India, August, 2021
Keywords: speech, digital, national_security, top_level_meeting


1. A warm welcome to you all to this important BRICS workshop. As BRICS Sherpa for India, I have the pleasure of guiding our engagement towards the objectives defined for our Chairship year and have witnessed progress on all three pillars – political and security, economic and financial and cultural and people to people.

2. As we celebrate BRICS@15, this is our 15th anniversary, we place priority on reformed multilateralism, counter terrorism engagement, use of digital and technological means to attain SDGs and deeper people-to-people exchanges.

3. Today's workshop thus fits in with the topmost priorities of BRICS and in fact, straddles two of them- on counter terrorism and on wider use of technology. Digital forensics and CT investigation capabilities form the backbone of an effective response to the use of internet for terrorist purposes. Dealing with this key issue would involve 3 key elements – appreciation of technology, legal mechanisms and cooperation between law enforcement agencies, including within BRICS.

4. On technology: this is an area that is advancing rapidly and the terrorist has the advantage of being able to use it without legal or moral scruples. While governments are working hard, the fact remains that much of the expertise and technical knowledge rests with the private sector and there is a strong case to be made for public-private partnerships not just within memberstates but across member-states. Simultaneously, the capabilities should be built up within law enforcement agencies since they are needed for the long term. The challenges that digital forensics examiners face with the increasing trend of anti-forensics techniques, especially encryption of digital evidence and usage of anonymising tech, raises the need to increase capacities in network and malware forensic areas. I recommend developing a forensic lab and a forensic manual to facilitate the investigation of online crimes including encryption of digital evidence and use of block chain technology for evidence gathering.

5. On legal mechanisms: concerted efforts are needed to address the dangers posed by terrorists and other violators in digital crime and also to adjust to the fast changing technology environment. We have to consolidate the relevant legislations under a comprehensive Act. These mechanisms will have to be forward looking and future oriented. On the one hand it should provide for more pro-active and preventive digital evidence, capacity building and collaboration between agencies while on the other it also has to be cognizant of data security, personal liberty and democratic values. I recognise each of you have done considerable work at national level, the idea is to share best practices at BRICS level.

6. Finally, on BRICS cooperation: allow me to first congratulate you on the excellent coordination you have already achieved in the field of security and your recent agreement on the Counter-Terrorism Action Plan, which is a major deliverable of India's Chairship. Some of the areas of focus could include communication between different law enforcement agencies; inter-agency cooperation; training for CT investigations; joint initiatives; centralized repository of information/data; sharing best practices for the monitoring of certain groups and entities with suspected terrorist connections; cyber patrolling activities; and others. The establishment of formal channels of communications and nodal points will be useful.

7. I wish this Workshop great success. I hope it will build contacts, develop procedures for direct exchanges between member countries to preserve digital evidence, expedite forensic investigations and prevent gaps in communication, and strengthen existing collaboration to wipe out the scourge of terrorism through collaborative BRICS action. kshop_on_Digital_Forensics
Road to BRICS Academic Forum (Академический Форум "Дорога в БРИКС") / India, August, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, think_tank_council, research


BRICS brings together five major emerging economies, comprising almost 42% of the world population, 30% of the land area, having 24% of the global GDP and 16% share in the global trade. BRICS deliberates on issues relevant for all developing countries and in that sense represents the voice of the developing world. BRICS has positively contributed towards the global discourse on a range of issues such as multilateral cooperation, sustainable development, climate change, development finance and reform of the multilateral system.

2021 is a landmark year for BRICS as it has completed 15 years. Over the last decade and a half, there have been numerous achievements of BRICS. It is the only plurilateral grouping with a Bank of its own and a financial safety net in the form of the Contingent Reserve Arrangement.

India has assumed the BRICS Chairship in 2021 and has strived to strengthen intra-BRICS cooperation across three pillars viz. political and security; economic and financial; and cultural and people to people exchanges, under the overall theme of 'BRICS@15: Intra BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus'.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has stated that people should be at the heart of BRICS cooperation and has called for enhancing people-to-people exchanges among citizens of the BRICS countries.

P2P interactions, while ensuring that the citizens of the BRICS countries get a better understanding of the grouping, have significantly contributed to enrich intra-BRICS dialogue. BRICS Academic Process is one such Forum that has served as a knowledge bank for various BRICS inter-governmental interactions and has institutionalised engagement among experts from BRICS countries.

I would like to place on record my appreciation for ORF and RIS for bringing together an excellent group of scholars and academics for the BRICS Academic Forum 2021. The Forum, in a series of academic exchanges, delved on various issues of importance for BRICS cooperation including multilateralism, health, SDGs, climate, future of work including women-led growth, international security, digital issues, cooperation on technology and innovation, and economic issues.

I am happy to note that ORF and RIS have decided to bring out this compendium of the reports of these academic exchanges - "The Road to BRICS Academic Forum 2021". It provides a comprehensive and incisive overview of some of the most urgent and important issues of relevance and significance to BRICS and presents insightful suggestions on further strengthening of intra-BRICS collaboration.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the organisers, Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), along with their counterparts in the BRICS Think Tank Council (BTTC), for their efforts in organizing these exchanges.

AMB. P. HARISH, Additional Secretary (ER), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India
1 st Workshop on Digital Forensics for BRICS countries (1-й семинар по цифровой криминалистике для стран БРИКС) / India, August, 2021
Keywords: digital, national_security, top_level_meeting

The National Security Council Secretariat, Government of India in association with Data Security Council of India, as a knowledge partner, had organized a three-day workshop from 03-05 August on "Digital Forensics" in virtual mode for delegates from BRICS states. Law Enforcement Agencies across the globe face challenges related to handling Digital Evidence due to the absence of standard practices for collection and analysis of digital evidence. Thus, there is a pressing need for countries to come together and share Best Practices for effective usage of Digital Forensics in civil/criminal or administrative investigations.

India had announced holding a Workshop on Digital Forensics for BRICS members during the last BRICS Summit and during the BRICS NSA's meeting in Brazil in 2019. At the 10th NSA level BRICS meeting on September 17, 2020, India proposed to conduct this workshop in virtual mode due to covid-19 pandemic.

The opening ceremony of the workshop was graced and addressed by Mr. Rajinder Khanna, Deputy National Security Advisor of India; Mr. Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology; Lt Gen Rajesh Pant, National Cyber Security Coordinator of India, Mr. Sanjay Bhatacharyya, Secretary (CPV & OIA), MEA & BRICS Sherpa, Ministry of External Affairs of India; and Mr. Narendra Nath, Joint Secretary, National Security Council Secretariat of India.

Various subject matter experts from Government, Academia and Industry deliberated on the Canvas of Digital Forensics: Evolution and Adoption; Mobile Forensics: Key to every Digital Forensic Investigation; Data Protection and Privacy: Preserving Digital Forensic Investigation; Forensics Analysis of Emerging Technologies (IoT, Cloud, Smart Devices and Block chain); Future Challenges in Digital Forensics and Way forward. The three-day workshop provided a peer-to-peer platform where Government representatives, law enforcement experts, policymakers, academicians and Industry got together to discuss issues related to Digital Forensics.

Experts from BRICS countries shared their research challenges, approaches, and roadmaps in digital forensics on the topics of workshop. The program has been designed with a special focus on examining issues related to the cyber-realm from an interdisciplinary and multidimensional perspective, offering a unique look at a range of challenges.
The future of BRICS (Будущее БРИКС) / India, August, 2021
Keywords: think_tank_council, expert_opinion

Curators Note

From its very inception, the BRICS Think Tank Council (BTTC) has encouraged and supported many academic publications on topics of critical importance to the BRICS. Since the BRICS chair alternates every year, the BTTC member of the host country takes on the responsibility of initiating new publications in collaboration with the other members. In the past years, we have seen some valuable academic research work being done by the members on behalf of the BTTC.

In 2021, with India as the BRICS chair, the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), the Indian BTTC member, is honoured to bring out this compendium of essays titled 'The Future of BRICS'. We wholeheartedly thank the other BTTC partners for their support and cooperation in realising this objective. We are also grateful to the 25 scholars for their valuable time and effort in producing the essays.

The BRICS agenda covers both intra-BRICS cooperation on a variety of common problems as well as global governance issues. Of these, the following four areas of great contemporary relevance to BRICS were selected for in-depth analysis:

  • Multilateralism with the focus on reformed multilateralism. The theme includes reforms of multilateral institutions, questions of global governance and ways of making it more efficient and representative.
  • International Security exploring both traditional and non-traditional threats to peace and security. Naturally, terrorism forms a major part of the debate. There are other related issues like the illegal flow of capital, money laundering and violent extremism.
  • Digitalisation focusing on a global framework for digital public goods, digital governance and digitalisation for sustainable development. The other aspect is the way to use digitalisation to encourage inclusivity in the growth and development process.
  • Climate Change and SDGs to address how the problem of climate change is impacting the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The specific issues discussed include the need for greater climate financing, capacity building and favorable ecosystems for innovation.
Scholars from each of the five BRICS countries have contributed essays on each of these themes. The different perspectives and nuances that the scholars bring to bear make this compendium a valuable academic work and also acts as an input for policymakers in the five countries in identifying new strategies.

We hope that this compendium will be a valuable addition to the growing body of research and knowledge on BRICS and will encourage further debates and discussions on these themes.

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