New Delhi played host to the BRICS Media Forum where discussions centred around how the media could play a greater role in fostering understanding among the BRICS nations, especially at a people-to-people level.

The forum, which took place this week, saw a number of media practitioners from host nation India, South Africa, Russia, China and Brazil meet for the one-day summit organised through India’s Ministry for External Affairs.A central theme of discussions was around greater co-operation between media from the BRICS nations, not only around high-level economic and political ties, but crucially to deepen relations at all levels, especially around culture, in order to build deeper understanding.

Hugo Lorenzetti Neto of Brazil’s Press and Cultural Section of the High Commission in India, said there was a need for greater people-to-people exchange.
He also called on BRICS media to be less “weighted on own agendas … we are too Russia or Brazil-centred”.Neto called for greater empathy with all cultures from the BRICS block.

This was echoed by Liu Yunyun, Executive Editor in Chief of the Beijing Review, who said: “There is too much of an internal focus, we are too country-centric. What do other member countries feel?”She said the BRICS nations had not shared “cultures and values” fully.Most participants agreed that media had a crucial role to play in helping develop greater understanding between BRICS nations, especially around understanding each other as peoples, as cultures and through values.

There were broad calls for a greater focus on “getting to know much more of each other”, for media from BRICS nations to “help break down stereotypes, change perceptions and build bridges”.Prior to the BRICS Summit in Goa at the weekend, there had been a BRICS film festival and craft fair in New Delhi as part of efforts to build deeper cultural ties.

Vasily Pushkov, International Projects Centre Head of Sputnik International News Agency, said BRICS media had been a “quiet observer”, but called for greater interaction such as co-operation agreements to help foster deeper understanding.Khayakazi Koto of South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation’s Ubuntu Radio station, said “we need to take BRICS to our communities”, so that they can better understand what the five-nation block is about and how it potentially affects them.

Opening the BRICS Media Forum earlier on Tuesday, India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, had highlighted the role of the media in the wake of the 8th BRICS Summit in Goa, saying: “There is a certain appropriateness in the conduct of a Media Forum at the conclusion of a Summit – an opportunity for review and evaluation, for marking one more milestone along our common journey.

“For after all, it is through your eyes that much of the world has seen the Summit, through the prism of your words that they have interpreted it.”Swaraj, too, pointed to the need to deepen cultural and people understanding, saying that a number of pre-Summit activities had been designed around this need.“Essentially, we took the BRICS outside the conference room and endeavoured to instill it in popular thinking. To do that, we partnered organisations and activities across the breadth of civil society.

“We were conscious that the BRICS not only represents a sixth of humanity, but is also a powerful voice of hope for future generations. It is for this reason that, in line with Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi’s vision, we have sought to lay particular emphasis on the people-to-people linkages that will bring our nations closer.”

– African News Agency (ANA)