Stating that BRICS has made a great progress and it is evident in the form of number of meetings and formats of interaction that have developed over the years, Sanjay Bhattacharyya, MEA Secretary (CPV and OIA) on Thursday said many of the group’s initiatives have touched the lives of people across the five countries.

He also emphasized that India has always given importance to tackling of global issues, such as the menace of terrorism and the perils of climate change which are also a priority on the BRICS agenda. He said in his keynote address at the launch of BRICS Academic Process 2021.

Taking a dig at the current multilateral system, he said the pandemic has exposed, what recent decades had also revealed, the fault lines inherent in the multilateral architecture. “It is undergoing a crisis of credibility stemming from questions regarding its efficacy and representative nature. As five of the largest countries on our continents, representing almost half of humanity, we must rise to the occasion for a meaningful contribution for humanity and the future,” the MEA Secretary said.

“Together, we have 41% of the world population, almost 30% of the land area and generate 24% of global GDP and 16% of world trade. Together we have the responsibility to reshape our global institutions and how we look to the future. Those resisting reforms are clinging to an image of the past that is not the reality of the present and certainly not the hope of the future,” he said

“I am pleased that all BRICS members have been engaged in discussion regarding the importance of reform in the UN system, Bretton Wood Institutions, WTO, WHO and others. In that context and especially for BRICS, which is a grouping of major countries with global impact, the objective of Reform of the Multilateral System is of highest significance,” he added.

The MEA Secretary said BRICS has always thrived on people-to-people exchanges. This pillar not only adds flavour and vitality to the movement but also deepens the quality of our relations and interactions.

He said cutting across three pillars of cooperation- political and security, economic and finance and cultural and people to people, BRICS is expansive in its agenda.

However “what makes the BRICS format of engagement unique is the member driven and yet consensus based character of the group. The absence of a secretariat adds responsibility on member states and the chair to ensure robust functioning and coordination of various BRICS mechanisms and institutions,” the MEA Secretary said.

He said under the chairmanship of India, four broad priority areas have been identified and they constitute:1) Reform of the Multilateral System 2) Counter Terrorism Cooperation 3) Using Digital and Technological Solutions for the achievement of SDGs and 4) Enhancing People to People exchange.

He said in order to deal with these priorities and to provide tangible benefits India has identified major deliverable which it wants to achieve this year.

These deliverables are: Adoption of a Joint Statement on the Reform of the Multilateral System at the Foreign Ministerial level; Adoption of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Strategy Action Plan; Adoption of the BRICS Economic Partnership Strategy Action Plan 2021-25; Adoption of the BRICS Agricultural Cooperation Action Plan 2021-24; Adoption of the Innovation Action Plan 2021-24; Cooperation on Disaster Resilience; Cooperation in Digital Health and Traditional Medicine.