Emerging as the Key Negotiator and African Partner
India’s BRICS Summit Victory

Published: 31 August 2023

Imran Chowdhury BEM 

The recently finished BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, will be recognised as a watershed moment in the grouping’s dynamics. India, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emerged as the victorious mediator and negotiator, skilfully gaining the backing of African countries. This development sometimes placed India at the centre of attention, even overshadowing China’s traditionally powerful presence under President Xi Jinping. Surprisingly, Bangladesh’s choice not to pursue BRICS membership during the summit has raised eyebrows, but it may be a gift in disguise for India’s larger ambitions.

India’s Triumphant Interlocutor at the BRICS Summit

From the opening of the BRICS Summit, it was clear that India intended to establish a name for itself. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s eloquent diplomacy and firm grasp of the African continent enabled India to gain significant backing from several African countries. India’s involvement extended from trade agreements to strategic alliances in industries such as renewable energy, infrastructure development, and healthcare. This aggressive yet diplomatically prudent approach elevated India to the summit’s de facto leader as it skillfully negotiated favourable arrangements that benefited the BRICS members and numerous African countries.

Taking Centre Stage: India’s Diplomatic Coup

What emphasised India’s significance even more was its ability to take the front stage during the BRICS Summit. While China’s President Xi Jinping has historically been considered the BRICS group’s face, India’s diplomatic prowess has allowed it to share the spotlight. India’s presence and influence were evident throughout the summit, notably in its contacts with African states.

One of the most momentous events occurred when India successfully signed a historic trade deal with South Africa, which could strengthen economic connections between the two countries and produce a ripple effect across the African continent. This achievement demonstrated India’s rising clout and leadership within the BRICS framework.

China’s Problem: India’s Ascension

China, the BRICS’ most powerful member in the past, was in an unexpected situation during the meeting. India has been a staunch opponent of President Xi Jinping’s efforts to strengthen China’s dominance. India’s diplomatic manoeuvres frequently eclipsed China’s attempts, increasing concerns about the group’s power balance.

India’s expanding prominence and determination to build connections with African states challenge China’s supremacy within the BRICS. This dynamic shift can potentially impact the group’s future, with India emerging as a powerful force.

Bangladesh’s Decision: A Double Blessing for India

Bangladesh’s decision not to pursue BRICS membership was among the most surprising outcomes during the summit. While this move aroused some eyebrows, it may be a blessing in disguise for India.

Bangladesh has opted to retain strategic autonomy and prioritise regional interests by opting out of BRICS membership. This decision is consistent with India’s aim of maintaining South Asian states’ sovereignty and interests. It also eliminates the possibility of rivalry or conflict between India and Bangladesh inside the BRICS framework, resulting in a more harmonious bilateral relationship.

India’s Overarching Goals: A New Beginning

As the BRICS Summit drew to a close, it was evident that India’s overall objectives had advanced significantly. Prime Minister Modi’s diplomacy not only cemented India’s leadership within BRICS, but also deepened its ties with African countries, paving the way for more excellent economic and strategic alliances.

India’s ability to manage the complicated geopolitics of the BRICS and its increased global prominence highlights its emergence as a crucial player in defining the future of international relations. This meeting has established India as a link between the BRICS states and Africa, advancing its objective of becoming a global superpower.


The South African BRICS Summit will be recognised as a watershed point in India’s diplomatic history. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deft negotiating skills and India’s strategic alliances with African states propelled India to the summit’s fore, perhaps jeopardising China’s customary supremacy. While Bangladesh’s decision to withdraw from the BRICS may be astonishing initially, it may eventually boost India’s regional connections.

As India pursues its overall goals, it will play a critical role in defining the future of the BRICS and global geopolitics. The BRICS Summit in Johannesburg was more than simply a diplomatic win for India; it signalled a new era in the country’s position as a global mediator and vital partner for African states.

In 2001, Jim O’Neill, a British economist at U.S. megafirm Goldman Sachs, came up with the acronym “BRIC” — Brazil, Russia, India and China — to capture the collective power of these significant economies on the world stage. No matter their differences in history, geography and political systems, the four nations represented more than a third of the world’s population and a growing proportion of global GDP. (ref: Washington Post ). Yet, as some Chinese pundits said, the idea of BRICS is to ascertain a SINO-centric geo-political platform. Nevertheless, the limelight was grabbed by the Indian delegates, so it seemed.