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BRICS Expansion to ‘Big Cats’: Highlights of Modi’s Second Day in South Africa

PM Modi also held bilateral talks with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Johannesburg for the 15th BRICS Summit, addressed a plenary session on Wednesday, 23 August, the second day of the summit

The Indian PM participated in two sessions over the second day of the summit:

  • A closed plenary that Foreign Secretary Kwatra that focussed more on items pertaining to intra-BRICS cooperation as also the reform of the multilateral system and counter-terrorism issues.

  • An open plenary which would saw participation from other entities and organisations that are associated with BRICS, which include the President of the New Development Bank, the Chair of the BRICS Business Council and the Chair of BRICS Women's Business Alliance

Foreign Secretary Kwatra had said the participants are "likely to deliberate on issues such as global economic recovery amid ongoing geopolitical challenges, sustainable development goals, women-led development as also addressing the concern and interest and priorities of the Global South."

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Top Points from PM Modi's Address at BRICS Plenary Session 

  • "To come to a beautiful city like Johannesburg once again is a matter of joy for me and my delegation. This city has deep and old relations with Indians and Indian history."

  • "At a distance from here is located Tolstoy Farm the construction of which was done by Mahatma Gandhi 110 years back. By connecting the great ideas of India, Eurasia and Africa, Mahatma Gandhi placed a strong foundation of our unity and harmony."

  • "To make BRICS a future-ready organisation, we will need to make our respective societies also future-ready, and technology will play an important role in this..."

  • "In around two decades, BRICS has undertaken a long and magnificent journey. In this journey, we made numerous achievements."

  • "We welcome the move to give special importance to the countries of the global south in BRICS under the chairmanship of South Africa. India has also given importance to this subject under its G20 presidency."

  • "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. Under this, we can work for global good in areas like space research, weather monitoring."

  • "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. In India, we have created DIKSHA i.e. Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing platform to provide education to the children of remote and rural areas."

  • "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."

  • "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."

  • "My fifth suggestion is about traditional medicine. We all have ecosystems of traditional medicine in our countries. Can we together create a repository of traditional medicine?"

  • "India fully supports the expansion of the BRICS membership. And welcomes moving forward with consensus in this. After seven years, we can say that, BRICS will be – Breaking barriers, Revitalizing economies, Inspiring Innovation, Creating opportunities, and Shaping the future."

  • The countries of the Global South have been given a special importance in BRICS, under the chairmanship of South Africa. India has given top priority to this topic under its G-20 presidency. We have also proposed to give permanent membership of G-20 to the African Union."

The Bilaterals 

PM Modi also held bilateral talks with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that the PM’s schedule for bilateral meetings are still being developed and a more comprehensive schedule will follow, refraining from providing specific information.

The two leaders took stock of bilateral cooperation including in areas of defence, agriculture, trade and investment, health, conservation and people to people ties.

Speculation is rife as to whether PM Modi will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which would make it the first time since their quick talk on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali last year.

While an official bilateral dialogue has not been suggested by either party, the possibility remains open and Foreign Secretary Kwatra did not rule out it out

Indian EAM S Jaishankar also held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the summit.

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