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India Begins BRICS Chairmanship with “Sherpas” Meeting

India Begins BRICS Chairmanship with “Sherpas” Meeting

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NEW DELHI, Feb 27: India started its BRICS chairship (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) with the inaugural three-day “Sherpa” conference.

Anurag Srivastava, the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted, “India kicked off its BRICS Chairship with the inaugural three-day long Sherpa’s meeting. Secretary (CPV& OIA) chaired the meeting and introduced our themes, priorities and calendar for #BRICS2021.” S Jaishankar the External Affairs Minister had released India’s calendar for BRICS 2021 on February 19.

Originally termed for Nepalese porters helping the mountain climbers with luggage, the term “Sherpas” are used in the context of G8 and G20 international summits for the government officials of different countries bearing the main brunt of the work-loads in the international conventions. The name was enshrined in an official document since 2005 with the designation of a high-profile group and the Sous-Sherpas are used for those assisting the “main Sherpa.” In India, the former minister Suresh Prabhu is the Sherpa to the G-20 summit. The previous Indian Sherpas included such top bureaucrats like Shaktikanta Das, Arvind Panagariya and Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas held their first meeting under India’s Chair from 24-26 February 2021. The meeting was chaired by Secretary CPV&OIA, Sanjay Bhattacharyya, and Additional Secretary Economic Relations, P. Harish, BRICS Sherpa and Sous Sherpa of India.

Under the theme “BRICS@15: Intra BRICS Cooperation for continuity, consolidation, and consensus,” India outlined its goals for its 2021 chairmanship which included strengthening the multilateral system, collaboration in counter-terrorism, using digital and technological solutions to accomplish SDGs and enhancing people-to-people exchanges. It was, followed by the BRICS 2021 calendar of activities accompanied by discussions and feedback session.

Various Government of India Ministries gave briefings and presentations on India’s goals in a range of thematic fields, including BRICS Anti-Terrorism Cooperation, Agriculture with a particular focus on Sustainable Growth and Digital Agriculture, Innovation Cooperation, Digital Health, Cooperation in Combating the Covid-19 Pandemic and Conventional Medicine, E-Government, economic trade partnership and trade agenda.

Anil Kishora, Vice President of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), briefed BRICS Sherpas on the bank’s priorities for the year, which included the launch of regional offices in Russia and India, as well as the extension of NDB membership.

During the three-day meeting, the Chairs of the BRICS Business Council, BRICS Women Business Alliance, BRICS Academic Forum, BRICS Civil Forum, and BRICS Think Tank Council discussions centred around cultural and people-to-people engagement along with presenting their agenda and planned activities for the year.

BRICS partners praised India’s Chairship theme for the year and termed the goals as timely and relevant and expressed support for the new initiatives proposed by India. The BRICS Sherpas also decided to meet again in two months to review the success of the negotiations and the schedule of future International and Other Ministerial meetings.

(Venkatesh Iyer)

 

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