NEW DELHI: It’s the biggest buildup to an international summit to be hosted by India — 95 events lined up ahead of the BRICS Summit in mid-October in Goa.
A meeting of BRICS heads of antidrug agencies in New Delhi on July 8 was one such event that are being held, not only in the national capital but across the country, including tier-II cities.
The Modi government is keen to change the trend of holding foreign policy meetings and summits largely in the national capital.
It wants to popularise foreign policy in the states and build Brand India among the other members of BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — by hosting workshops and conferences in the run-up to the summit elsewhere in the country. “The idea is to build the public profile of BRICS through local participation.
The objective is to take BRICS to the common people. And involving the state governments for an international summit fulfils the PM’s objective of cooperative federalism,” a person familiar with the developments told ET. Effective partnership between Indian states and provinces abroad is among the priorities of the Modi government and through BRICS, more such partnerships are being explored, the person said.
Guwahati, Assam’s biggest city considered the gateway to the landlocked Northeast, hosted the BRICS Youth Summit from July 1to 3, generating significant enthusiasm among the local people. “The presence of representatives from different continents and two UN permanent Security Council members gave appropriate exposure to the youth of Assam,” another person said.
India previously hosted the BRICS Summit in 2012 in New Delhi, with 25 events preceding it, most of them held in the national capital. The Bharatiya a Janata Party-led Modi government is choosing other cities to host both political and economic summits.
The second edition of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation was held in Jaipur last August, while the Make in India week was organised in Mumbai early this year. India may host the next ministerial conference of the heart of Asia-Istanbul Process as co-chair in 2016, possibly outside New Delhi.
Places covered in the run-up to the October 15-16 summit include Khajuraho, a popular tourist destination, where the BRICS Convention of Tourism will be held at the end of August. State capitals roped in to host BRICS-related meetings include Mumbai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Lucknow, Patna, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar.
Besides, Udaipur, Agra, Varanasi, Vishakhapatnam, Secunderabad and Cochin are on the list of host cities for BRICS-related meetings, ranging from railways to disaster management to urbanisation to small and medium industries and labour and employment. Bengaluru, India’s information technology hub, is the venue for most BRICS IT-related meets.
“It is giving exposure to various smaller cities and towns, which usually are not covered by foreign policy mandarins. This also helps the states to brand themselves and attract investments. Further, it is adding symbolism to the essence of BRICS,” an official said.
Many of the workshops and conferences, which are attended by the four presidents of the group and the Indian PM, focus on the government’s flagship projects, besides global and economic issues based on the group’s priorities.
“The idea is to share best practices and learn from the experience of other BRICS nations in the areas that have been identified as priorities by the Modi government, including smart cities, Digital India and Startup India. We are also expecting expertise and investments by some BRICS nations – Russia and China – in key infrastructure areas like railways,” an official said.
Ahead of the summit, the Indo-Russian annual summit is expected to be held in Goa on October 15, while an Indo-Brazilian conference could be held here. The Modi government is planning a summit of leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, also in Goa, after the BRICS meeting.