Rumors Over BRICS Summit Point to West’s Paranoia

Media speculation that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi may not attend the Johannesburg summit and that the nation isn’t receptive to BRICS expansion may be signs a threatened West looks to ‘divide and rule’, writes M.K. Bhadrakumar.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the historic meeting of BRICS nations in Johannesburg, despite a speculative report by Reuters to the contrary. (, CC BY 4.0/Wikimedia Commons)

By  M.K. Bhadrakumar
Indian Punchline

Reuters carried a speculative report earlier this month (reversed the next day) that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi might not attend the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in person and furthermore that India disfavoured an expansion of the grouping. Reuters’ long history of cold war skulduggery notwithstanding, the gullible Indian media fell for the rumour mongering. 

It created some confusion, but only momentarily. South Africa is conscious that, with the state of play in its bilateral ties with the U.S. being what it is, President Cyril Rampaphosa’s excellent personal relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, BRICS’ sojourn on the ‘de-dollarisation’ pathway and its expansion plans, there are high expectations of Modi’s constructive role to make the upcoming event in Johannesburg Aug. 22-24, a historic milestone in 21st century world politics. 

The plain speak by the South African foreign minister Naledi Pandor on the Reuters report is spot on. Pandor said:

“I did speak to various colleagues in government and outside, and everybody was astounded by this rumor. I think that someone who is trying to spoil our summit is creating all sorts of stories that suggest that it won’t be successful. 

“The prime minister of India has never said that he is not attending the summit. I am in constant contact with foreign minister Jaishankar. He has never said that. Our sherpas are in touch and they have never said it. So, we have all been trying to look for this needle in a haystack that began this rumor.”

There was a time not too long ago when the West used to ridicule the BRICS as an ineffectual butterfly beating its wings in the void in a world order dominated by the G7. But the ‘‘butterfly effect’’ is being felt today in the remaking of the world order.

Ukraine Conflict Triggers Tectonic Shift 

Simply put, the torrential flow of events in the past year with the situation around Ukraine brought to the surface Russia’s existential struggle vis-a-vis the U.S., which in turn triggered a tectonic shift in the international landscape, one transformative aspect being the rise of the Global South and its increasingly important role in international politics. 

The Biden administration wouldn’t have expected that a polarization to isolate Russia and China would end up like this. Paradoxically, Washington’s ‘‘dual containment’’ of Russia and China, as enshrined in the Biden Administration’s National Security Strategy, marked the beginning of the Global South breaking away from the control of the big powers, repositioning their international status and role, and seeking strategic self-confidence and autonomy. 

Saudi Arabia is a stellar example. It is assuming an independent trajectory in regional hot spots such as Sudan or Syria, calibrating the world oil market through the OPEC Plus format – rather than obeying the diktats from Washington – and in seeking BRICS membership.

The developing countries are gaining room to manoeuvre in the game of big powers and their political influence has risen rapidly. Their diplomatic independence and strategic autonomy against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis has accelerated their rise as an emerging force in global politics in a remarkably short period of time.

What prompts 23 non-western countries to formally seek BRICS membership — although, the grouping doesn’t even have a secretariat — is because the grouping is perceived today as the principal platform of the Global South espousing an equitable world order and, therefore, has a tryst with the destiny of mankind. 

Right from its inception, BRICS has been savvy enough not to inject any ‘‘anti-Westernism’’ into its agenda — in fact, none of its founding members has a ‘‘bloc mentality’’. But that hasn’t prevented the West from feeling threatened. In reality, this threat perception emanates out of a morbid fear of extinction that the four-century-old western dominance of the political and economic order and the international system is drawing to a close. 

Neo-mercantilism, which is crucial to arrest the decline of the western economies, is being frontally challenged, as we are witnessing in real time in Niger. Without the massive transfer of resources from Africa, the West faces a dim future. The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell blurted out in a weak moment that the West, a manicured garden, is threatened by the jungle. The atavistic fears and instincts implicit in Borrell’s metaphor are simply stunning. 

A meeting of BRICS nations in 2018. The trading bloc’s power is increasing and all its members, including India, are open to expansion to include other countries. (Photo: Russian Presidency)

Colonial  Tactics of Exploiting Differences

Hence such frenzy to run down BRICS, to weaken its resolve, to tarnish its image and standing, and prevent it from gathering momentum. Alas, the same old colonial ‘‘divide and rule’’ mindset is at work to amplify the differences and disagreements between the BRICS member states. 

The controversy about the Indian stance on BRICS expansion can be seen only that way. Last week, following the rumor mongering by Reuters, Indian foreign ministry spokesman felt compelled to clarify all over again:

‘‘Let me repeat again. We have clarified our position in the past. As mandated by the leaders last year, BRICS members are internally discussing the guiding principles, the standards, criteria, and procedures for BRICS expansion process on the basis of full consultation and consensus.

As our External Affairs Minister had mentioned, we are approaching this with an open mind and a positive outlook. We have seen some baseless speculation… that India has reservations against expansion. This is simply not true. So let me put it very clearly from that.’’

As regards the canard that Modi planned to skip the trip to  Johannesburg, the Indian spokesman said, ‘‘I would urge you not to go by speculative media reports. When we are in a position to talk about, to announce such high-level visits, we will certainly do so, and you’ll know that that’s been our practice. For the moment, I would urge you all to just be patient and let us announce it at the right time.’’

Equally, the Anglo-American conspiracy behind the ICC’s arrest warrant on Putin is self-evident. Russia had pioneered BRICS and the grouping’s first summit took place in Yekaterinburg in 2008 [which, by the way, issued a joint statement warning against the global domination of the U.S. dollar as the world’s standard reserve currency.]

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks alongside China’s President Xi Jinping. Putin has gained a receptive audience in the Global South as he pushes for de-dollarization in international trade. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Putin has been tirelessly campaigning for ‘‘de-dollarisation’’ and is the most resonant voice today on that issue on the international stage. Putin’s prognosis has gained wide acceptance in the Global South, as evident from the exodus of countries opting for national currencies to settle their mutual payments.

Washington is increasingly concerned that a process of ‘de-dollarisation’ is gaining traction in the international financial system, following its excessive weaponisation of sanctions and arbitrary seizure of dollar reserves of countries it does not get along with. 

China and India’s Convergence of Interests

Interestingly, Bloomberg featured an article on the BRICS summit titled ‘‘This club isn’t big enough for both China and India.’’ Its thesis is that ‘‘tensions between the Asian rivals will likely prevent the BRICS bloc from ever posing a coherent challenge to the West.’’ It is a hackneyed attempt to dwell on the contradictions that exist between China and India to drive a wedge and undermine BRICS unity.

True, India may have concerns about China dominating the BRICS group. But then, China is also a strong exponent of BRICS expansion and increased representation of developing countries. Doesn’t that show a strategic convergence? 

Fundamentally, despite their unresolved border dispute, India and China have a common vision that BRICS plays an essential role on the global multilateral stage. Both countries also see the BRICS as a platform to enhance their international status and influence. This commonality of interests is what worries the West. 

For India, BRICS is a favourable instrumental platform to realise its aspiration to achieve greater representation on the international stage. Therefore, BRICS success can only strengthen India’s foreign policy — and conceivably may even create some positive energy and ambience in its relations with China.

M.K. Bhadrakumar is a former diplomat. He was India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan and Turkey. Views are personal.

 This article originally appeared on Indian Punchline.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

12 comments for “Rumors Over BRICS Summit Point to West’s Paranoia

  1. wildthange
    August 15, 2023 at 21:20

    The fact that the NATO alliance is strong arming western countries with threats of being left out in cold if they don’t join in is simple proof to the rest of the world we have never changed from centuries of self absorbed supremacy.
    This a new age and military alliances of any type are existential threats to world civilization. The age of empire domination and superiority complex is over.
    Civilization must kick the aggression habit and the reign in the military industrial, religious, and corporate protection racket and the promotional activities of permanent war.

  2. jamie
    August 15, 2023 at 17:22

    Seeding disagreements it has always been a quality of the west; pitting once against the other has worked well with native americans, as well with others. The very strength of the west is the disunity and incapacity of the non-western countries to overcome differences

  3. CaseyG
    August 15, 2023 at 13:49

    Oh AMERICA, sadly you seem to believe in “Live by the sword.” Did you forget the rest of it…”DIE BY THE SWORD ?’

    Oh Joe , you need to go AND TAKE BLINKEN with you.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      August 16, 2023 at 10:17

      And practice “live…and let live”.

  4. Caliman
    August 15, 2023 at 13:35

    One of the critical elements of the new order will be abandonment of the west-beholden “news” propaganda outfits like Reuters and AP … the BRICS nations need to lose their naïveté in separating the agencies from their governments; they are, by and large, one and the same.

  5. Robert
    August 15, 2023 at 13:32

    How much longer can our MSM, including heavyweights Wall Street Journal and Rueters, go along without reporting on the dismal foreign policy results that have surfaced under the Biden, Blinken, Sullivan, Nuland and Burns regime?

    Biden etc. completely underestimated Russia’s ability and resolve to survive the harshest economic sanctions in history. They completely underestimated the number of non western world governments that would remain neutral or take the side of Russia in the Ukraine debacle. And they completely underestimated how the sanctions and freezing of Russian assets would fuel worldwide interest in BRICS membership and de-dollarasation.

    When an honest, independent historian finally gets around to assessing Blinkens term as Secretary of State he no doubt will come in dead last. That guy along with Ms. Nuland, should have ankle bracelets attached and never allowed outside of Washington D.C.

    • Valerie
      August 16, 2023 at 11:18

      “How much longer can our MSM, including heavyweights Wall Street Journal and Rueters, go along without reporting on the dismal foreign policy results that have surfaced under the Biden, Blinken, Sullivan, Nuland and Burns regime?”

      Till the last Ukranian maybe?

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    August 15, 2023 at 10:06

    I have NO use for India’s Modi…persecuting Muslims.

    • rosemerry
      August 15, 2023 at 15:55

      Surely it is much better than the USA-persecuting everybody it has decided not to like.

    • Rafael
      August 17, 2023 at 17:00

      Modi is indeed a criminal, but I don’t think that prevents the ruling class of India from favouring an anti-colonial policy abroad. Although he is a creature of the fascistic and obscurantist RSS, he also, as prime minister, must pursue policies that the Indian capitalist class approves of.

  7. Gerry L Forbes
    August 14, 2023 at 22:20

    “Paradoxically, Washington’s’ ‘dual containment’ of Russia and China, as enshrined in the Biden Administration’s National Security Strategy, marked the beginning of the Global South breaking away from the control of the big powers…”

    “Never underestimate Joe’s ability to f*ck things up” –Barack Obama

    • karl
      August 15, 2023 at 08:42

      now the dems will claim biden’s an anti-imperialist

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