With much in common, the door is wide open to forge a social, cultural, people to people and economic relationship to boost trade from an insignificant $7 billion at present. This will send out a strong signal of South-South co-operation
Believe it or not, while India is spread over 1.26 million sq miles, just the Amazon is 2.12 million sq. miles! Brazil is the third largest hub for Unicorns in the world—a symbol of new age economy. But all we know of Brazil is Pele and football.
The India-Brazil bilateral summit will be an important occasion to consolidate relationship between the two countries. While there is considerable distance between India and Brazil, the former is 15,000 miles away, yet striking similarities can make the heart grow fonder.
Both countries are multi-cultural, with a commitment to democracy; where the leadership has a strong mandate and a compatible profile.
The bilateral summit, a first after nearly a decade, though timed with Republic day, is the right time to tap the full potential. Having cooperated on international issues, with BRICS as a cementing factor, the visit of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro can be the starting point for a comprehensive strategic partnership, especially in areas of special interest such as energy (oil and renewables), food, etc.
The good news is both countries are united by democratic principles. They are, however, separated by distance, with no border issues and virtually no possibility of an immediate crisis or threat on the geopolitical front.
With much in common, the door is wide open to forge a social, cultural, people-to-people and economic relationship to boost trade from an insignificant $7 billion at present. This will send out a strong signal of South-South co-operation.
First, Brazil’s number one export to India is crude oil, but, mind you, it is experiencing an oil production boom and will be amongst the top-5 oil producing countries in the world over the next decade.
Second, as a large producer of sugarcane, Brazil started a bioethanol programme which is highly effective and is a means of bio-energy which can fire up thermal cogeneration plants. One resultant by-product are bio-pellets (a substitute for coal) and a means of clean energy, the urgent need of the hour in India.
In wind energy, Brazil is the cheaperst source; a Brazilian company manufacturing wind turbine generators WEG is already in India. This resource can be fully tapped.
An ideal energy partner is around the corner, almost a God sent, and India should clinch a deal, especially in the wake of recent global events which could result in an oil crisis.
Third, Brazil is not only self-sufficient in food production, but exports commodities including pulses to the Indian market. India consumes a variety of different foods, its growing and expanding population requires a perennial source, especially for proteins.
The ingredients for an all-encompassing relationship are, therefore, in place. Now, the two countries must repose trust in each other—make it solid like BRICS (Bricks) to bind aspirations, goals, and objectives of two nations.
India can start with a clean slate, having opted out of trade agreements, to put in place a bilateral framework/ agreement. This will be a “First” as we look beyond our neighbourhood principle.
It will also facilitate the flow of investments, and strengthen and fortify India’s strategic interests. Moving in this direction will be a practical litmus test for the ease of doing business. It will send out positive signals to foreign investors. A bilateral agreement between the two countries will secure this, which, in turn, will globally push India up in the ‘World Bank Ease of doing’ index.
We can go from a stage where the countries not only have a BRICS ‘bank’ in common, but can bank upon each other for ushering in the winds of change.
The time is right for deepening this relationship. In fact, the Brazilian ministry of mines and energy has said that “India and Brazil are key players in the international energy landscape, both as consumers and producers. We are joining hands to create an international biofuel market and supply our planet with renewable and clean energy.”
This partnership will make the presidential visit a landmark win-win, setting the right ‘pulse’.
My initiation to Brazil was via a film Blame it on Rio. I fell for Rio as it came across as a fun and happening place. I was drawn to it instantly.
Bollywood should take cue, and shoot a film in Brazil triggering people to visit the country, connecting the two nations in an enduring relationship.
The author is Senior advocate, Supreme Court of India. Views are personal