Jan. 28, 2004 – As special guest of the Indian government on January 26, Indiaâ€™s Republic Day,, Brazilian President Luis Ignacio da Silva ("Lula") sought to enhance the trade relationship between the two countries. "India and Brazil can together build a strong force that can change the trade geography of the world," Lula told reporters in India.
Indeed, in mid-January many newspapers had reported that the creation of a developing world trading block and consolidation of the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum -- the so-called "G-3" -- would be an important feature of Lulaâ€™s trip.
Economic agreements were certainly signed during Lulaâ€™s trip. For instance, the IndiaExpress Bureau reported on the signing of a "preferential trade agreement with Latin American trading bloc Mercosur [Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina] that could lead to a free trade arrangement between the two sides."
And many Indian newspapers were quick to highlight the invitation of Lula, and the potential South-South trading block, as being a counter to expanding US influence in the world. "The choice of Lula," The Telegraph wrote, "indicates that Indiaâ€™s foreign policyâ€¦ is independent."
Right under Lulaâ€™s nose, however, was evidence of the active pursuit of a slice of that US influence on the part of Indiaâ€™s far-right ruling coalition.
Reuters, for example, reported that the Republic Day parade was a display of "military mightâ€¦ soldiers and military hardware." The US and its close allies, such as Israel and Britain, have increasingly been involved in the supply of weapons and transfer of military technology to India. A Janeâ€™s Defence Weekly brief recently stated that Israeli "is helping India develop its indigenous weapons industry."
Earlier in January, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had met with US President George Bush. At the Summit of the Americas in Mexico, Bush remarked, "The vision of US-India strategic partnership that Prime Minister Vajpayee and I share is now becoming a reality," according to the Press Trust of India.
In October 2003, this "partnership" was described by Colin Powell as a "glide path," in an interview to the Washington Post. Powell noted in the interview that future India-US relations and trade would be based on the "Trinity" of "high tech areas, areas having to do with space launch activities, and with [the] nuclear industry."
On January 20, 2004, in a press release by the US Embassy in New Delhi, Powell repeated these remarks. "We are also very pleased," he said "at the improvement in the U.S.-Indian bilateral relationshipâ€¦ most recently in the announcement made by President Bush and Prime Minister Vajpayee last weekâ€¦ as we move forward in areas of cooperation having to do with civil nuclear initiatives, space initiatives, missile defense, as well as high-technology trade exchanges."
Related to the issue of high-tech industries, the Times of India reported that India and Brazil also signed a "framework agreement for cooperation in the field of outer space" during Lulaâ€™s trip.
India and Brazil both have notable space programs. In the wake of Chinaâ€™s launching of a person into orbit last year, and subsequent US declarations of plans for the militarization of space, many actors are laying their claims to the ownership of space. The India-Brazil agreement also involves a "program of cooperation" between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB).