Why Brazil matters to India
Soccer, samba, carnival and beautiful women may sum up Brazil's romance and mystique. But as this Latin American giant wakes up to a new global role, fuelled by its trillion-dollar economy and expertise in green fuels, it's growing ties with India, another rising power, has caught the attention of the world.
India and Brazil may be continents apart, but the strategic embrace of these emerging giants of Asia and Latin America signals something larger for the evolving world order where the two are cooperating on a wide spectrum of global issues ranging from the UN reforms and climate change to terrorism and multilateral trade talks.
This is the broader message of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's three-day visit to India that began here Sunday morning: telling the world that the two countries share "a converging, innovative and hopeful perception of the world," in Lula's own words.
Although Lula's visit has predominantly economic focus - he has come to India with over 80 top business leaders and will launch an India-Brazil CEOs forum Monday with a view to quadrupling bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2010 - this economic thrust is subsumed in a larger vision of global partnership.
"The international community regards both of our countries as indispensable actors in reshaping the economic order as well as international politics," Lula wrote in an article ahead of his transformational visit to India.
This reshaping will be reflected in intensified cooperation in restructuring the UN Security Council through the G4 initiative launched by India, Brazil, Germany and Japan and closer coordination of diplomatic efforts to get a reasonable deal for the developing world through equitable trade opportunities and the common pursuit of equitable world order in a trilateral grouping comprising India, Brazil and South Africa.
What makes Brazil a key strategic and economic partner for India as this country of 1.2 billion people seeks a larger global role for itself and better life for its citizens?
Brazil is 2.6 times bigger in area than India and has a five-fold per capita income than that of India, but has a population one-sixth of India.
Brazil has huge reservoirs of natural resources and mineral deposits like iron ore, manganese, nickel, tungsten, diamonds, potassium, phosphate, tungsten, gold, lead and graphite.
It's proven and estimated reserves of 48 billion tonnes of iron ore alone are capable of meeting the world demand for iron for the next 50 years. The Indian economy, which is growing at the rate of over eight per cent over the last few years, would need a generous supply of these resources to sustain its growth.
The discovery of high-grade uranium reserves in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais and Goias is good news for India as it seeks global civilian nuclear cooperation and the support of Brasilia - an influential member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.
In the agriculture sector, India can learn a lot from Brazil's emergence as an agricultural superpower as it sets new benchmarks in productivity and modernises its technology of storage, distribution and agri-processing industries. Significantly for India, Brazil utilises less than 6 per cent of its total area of 851 million hectares for cultivation. With Indian population expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2050, India will do well to invest capital and human resource in agriculture assets in Brazil to feed its relentlessly growing citizens.
More than any other area, it is India's search for alternative energy resources that can make Brazil - world leader in biofuels like ethanol - a crucial lynchpin of its quest for energy security. India has already agreed to join hands with Brazil, South Africa, China and the United States to launch an international forum on bio-fuels and promote ethanol as an international commodity.
For Brazil, the gains of economic and strategic partnership are equally substantial. The Latin American powerhouse is increasingly looking at India as an undisputable knowledge hub with its proven expertise in IT sector and its prowess in biotech and pharmaceuticals industries. Lula himself has acknowledged the Indian strengths in these sectors and sought what he called a "truly strategic partnership" in the area of jointly developing anti-AIDS medicines.
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