Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – BRICS – a group of countries diverse in terms of economics and geography, constitute an infant formation that has moved centre stage in the contemporary world in a rather short span of time. Their economic importance is obviously attributable to size. In 2010, taken together, these five countries accounted for 43 per cent of world population and 18 per cent of world income. 1 However, their political significance stems not only from economic size, but also from collective voice in a world where the balance of power is changing. The acronym began life in 2004, coined by Jim O’Neill in a Goldman Sachs study. 2 But this was no more than an exercise in compound growth rates for a cluster of countries that experienced rapid economic growth in the 1990s, which gathered momentum in the boom of the early 2000s. 3 It evolved into a political reality in 2009 with the first annual summit of the BRICS nations. South Africa was a late invitee and entrant in 2011. This evolution was an iterative process. It started in 2003, with a plurilateral group of three countries – India, Brazil and South Africa – one from each continent of the developing world that was named IBSA. The next step followed in 2009, to include China in BASIC, an ad hoc coalition that was shaped by an event, the Summit on Climate Change at Copenhagen.