India has taken the lead in forging a consensus on the criteria for new membership
India fully supports the expansion of the BRICS membership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said. Speaking at Plenary Session 1 of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday (August 23, 2023), he said India "welcomes moving forward with consensus in this".

It was during India's chairmanship in 2016 that BRICS was defined as Building Responsive, Inclusive, and Collective Solutions. "After seven years, we can say that, BRICS will be – Breaking barriers, Revitalizing economies, Inspiring Innovation, Creating opportunities, and Shaping the future," Prime Minister Modi remarked.

"Together with all the BRICS partners, we will continue to contribute actively in making this new definition meaningful," he said.

The remarks assume significance in view of the fact that India has played a key role in getting existing members to agree on how new members should be selected to the group comprising Brazil, India, China, and Russia.

During discussions at the BRICS Leaders' Retreat in Johannesburg on August 22, 2023, it was India who stepped in and steered discussions to finalise the process of choosing new members for the group that currently includes Brazil, India, China, and South Africa.

India took the lead in forging a consensus on the membership criteria and the selection of new members, said people familiar with the developments. "Our efforts were guided by our objective to incorporate our Strategic Partners as new members," one of them said.

Speaking at the 15th BRICS Summit, Prime Minister Modi also put forward some suggestions for further broadening the close cooperation between member states:

1. The first is cooperation in the field of space. We are already working on the BRICS satellite constellation. Taking it a step further, we can consider creating a BRICS Space Exploration Consortium.

2. My second suggestion is cooperation in education, skill development and technology. To make BRICS a future ready organization, we have to make our societies future ready. Technology will play an important role in this.

3. My third suggestion is that we can do skills mapping together to identify each other's strengths. Through this we can complement each other in the journey of development.

4. My fourth suggestion is regarding big cats. A large number of big cats of different species are found in all the five countries of BRICS. Under the International Big Cat Alliance, we can make joint efforts for their protection.

5. My fifth suggestion is about traditional medicine. We all have ecosystems of traditional medicine in our countries.

Prime Minister Modi also welcomed how the countries of the Global South had been given a special importance in BRICS under the chairmanship of South Africa. "This is not only the expectation of the present time, but also the need," he said.

According to Prime Minister Modi, India has given top priority to this topic under its G-20 presidency in an effort to move forward together with all the countries on the motto of "One Earth, One Family, One Future".