India is worried about several countries, such as Thailand, Bangladesh and possibly Turkey, queuing up for membership in the BRICS grouping immediately after six nations were allowed entry into the bloc in January this year. It is trying to prevent an immediate re-opening of membership and wants a gap, preferably of five years, before more members are admitted, sources have said.

“New Delhi wants a gap of about five years before admission of a second group of countries into BRICS is considered as it believes that a minimum time would be needed for the bloc to adjust its functioning after admission of the six new members on January 1 2024. It has emphasised this in recent meetings of senior officials and sherpas,” a source tracking the matter told businessline.

Major concerns

India wants a slow down in the process of admission of new members into BRICS–which primarily comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa–also because it is concerned about the power structure in the bloc tilting more heavily in China’s favour with increase in membership, the source added.

With more than 30 countries queued up for admission, the issue of further expansion of the BRICS is likely to come up in the meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministers in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, on June 10-11.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that through the expansion of the bloc, China wants to turn the BRICS alliance of major developing nations into an alternative to G20 and other US-led groupings and increase its own clout simultaneously. It wants to further challenge the West through the bloc and this is what India may not want. India wants the BRICS to retain its original essence of an equal partnership,” the source said.

Following inclusion of the six new countries–Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Argentina, the UAE and Ethiopia–BRICS GDP increased to roughly 30 per cent of global GDP from about 26 per cent earlier. It also accounts for about 46 per cent of the world population.

It is important for India to get Brazil’s support in delaying the admission of more members. “Brazil, too, doesn’t want China’s heft to increase. One needs to see what its final stand would be on the matter,” another source said.

It will be a difficult battle for India as China and Russia are expected to encourage expansion of the group as both are aligned against the West.

Moreover, the countries in waiting are all aspirational and do not want to wait. “India enjoys good diplomatic relations with most of the developing countries that want to be part of the BRICS alliance. It would be difficult to make them wait for five years,” the source added.