When President Jair Bolsonaro visited India in January 2020 as the Republic Day chief guest, he was the third Brazilian President to visit India as the Republic Day chief guest. Perhaps this is a testament to the deep relationship between these two ethically, culturally, and socio-politically diverse countries divided by the oceans, yet similar in their overall multicultural and multiethnic nature. The two countries which established diplomatic relations in 1948, and have historic relations dating back five centuries, over the last 70 years have grown significantly as regional economic powerhouses and military powers.

New Delhi and Brasilia share a rich relationship and have historically and have cooperated with each other on several global issues and initiatives such as global south-south cooperation and the UNSC reform to help shape the new world order as per the contemporary realities. The two over the years have worked along with each other on a bilateral level and as members of several multilateral forums such as the BRICS grouping, G-4, G-20, IBSA, and the International Solar Alliance, besides cooperation through the UN and its agencies and international financial institutions.

Culturally there is enormous interest between the two populations in each other’s cultures. Indian culture, religions, performing arts, and philosophies are highly popular in Latin America, and especially Brazil. Indian cultural music and dance forms have influenced Brazilians for generations. Yoga and Ayurveda have lately spread all over Brazil with organizations like the Ramakrishna Mission, Bhakti Vedanta Foundation, and ISKCON operating in almost every Brazilian state. The Brazilian Association of Ayurveda (ABRA) is one such non-profit association with offices spread all over Brazil, which actively promotes Ayurveda and alternative medicine.

Brazil is one of the most important trading partners of India in the entire Latin American region. India-Brazil bilateral trade has increased substantially in the last several decades. In 2019, India was Brazil’s 7th largest import source country and 18th largest export destination. Economic Opportunities and avenues for cooperation between New Delhi and Brasilia remain immense and across several sectors. Including IT, automobiles, mining, energy, biofuels, footwear, and aerospace & defense. Indian enterprises have invested in Brazil in sectors like IT, engineering and construction, mining, and pharmaceuticals. Indian conglomerates like the Sterlite Group have plans to invest upwards of USD 4 billion in the Latin American country.

Cooperation in Defense between India and Brazil has also remained an important sphere, wherein 2003 India and Brazil reached an agreement to cooperate in the Defense arena. The agreement comprises cooperation in the field of defense research and development, procurements and acquisitions of defense equipment, military support, training, and exercises between the two partners. The Indian Air Force’s Netra AEW&CS systems are a testament of the increasing engagement between the two nations, whereby Brazil’s Embraer provided India’s DRDO with three of its ERJ-145 platforms for integration with DRDO’s radar.  During the recent Presidential visit, the Brazilian firearms company Taurus Armas SA signed a joint venture with Jindal Defense to produce and sell small arms in India.

India and Brazil, post the end of the cold war, have shared common worldviews of a more equal world where emerging economies like theirs play a more decisive role in every aspect of international governance. Their focus on the Global south’s quest to regain what it deserves as per its geographic and proportional size remains an important agenda for like-minded emerging economies to rally upon. Both the nations believe that to achieve this, major international reforms need to be carried out within the UN system which includes their inclusion in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as permanent members.

The absence of any differences over their worldviews is a huge incentive in their pursuance of a stronger and more comprehensive strategic relationship that benefits both New Delhi and Brasilia and helps them grow economically. Areas for cooperation and engagement remain numerous and recent government initiatives like the Strategic Partnership Action Plan, Mutual assistance agreement on crime, agreements on double taxation avoidance and those on research and development of eco-friendly bio-ethanol have hugely increased the confidence and ease of doing business between the two nations at the same time increasing the avenues for cooperation.

Nishant Agarwal

Project Associate,

Aerospace & Defense vertical

BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry