India is unlikely to create major hurdles in the expansion of the five-member BRICS being championed by China, Russia and South Africa, and may only insist that the new members support UN Security Council (UNSC) reforms, and loosely meet certain qualification criteria for emerging economies, sources tracking the matter have said. 

“India’s stance on expanded membership may be less stringent than that of Brazil, which additionally may ask potential new members to support its own, as well as India’s candidature for permanent seat at the UNSC,” a source familiar with the development told businessline.

Both Brazil and India, however, are on the same page on other criteria of inclusion for a new member, including a minimum level of GDP to establish it is an emerging economy, and a minimum amount of trade with bloc members, the source added. “These criteria could loosely be met by the aspiring candidates,” the source added

BRICS, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is one of the world’s most important economic blocs, representing more than one quarter of global GDP, and 42 per cent of the global population.

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At the forthcoming BRICS Summit to be held in Johannesburg from August 22-24, likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BRICS leaders may give the green signal for inducting new members, while the actual membership could take place up to a year later.

New Delhi is set to give its consent for inclusion of three-five new members, including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia (which may require internal clearance from the 10-member ASEAN), and Argentina. Of the 22 countries that have applied for membership, the other front-runners are Egypt and the UAE, the source added.

India and Brazil were initially not keen on expanding BRICS membership as the exercise is largely viewed as China’s effort to increase its influence within the group. Russia, which has been cut-off from the West following its war on Ukraine last year, is also eager to be part of a bigger grouping, and is pushing the BRICS expansion process.

With Brazil likely to be placated with the inclusion of Argentina amongst the new members, India does not want to face a situation where it might be the lone opposing voice. “Instead, it wants to make the most of the situation by ensuring fair and balanced representation on terms it deems favourable,” the source added.

India has for long pitched for reforms at the UNSC, which last saw reforms in 1963 when four non-permanent members were added to the council, and has been calling for a more equitable and representative structure. India and Brazil are both considered front-runners for a permanent seat. “India’s likely demand that new BRICS members must support UNSC reforms, will advance India’s claim for a permanent seat on the body, although not as directly as Brazil wants it to,” the source said.