At New Delhi on December 1, visiting Brazilian Defense Minister Jose Veiges Filho and his Indian counterpart George Fernandes signed a defense agreement that will explore the possibilities of cooperating in air-surveillance systems, as well as in exploring co-production and co-development of aircraft, warship building and sub-systems such as software avionics and ordnance, according to Indian Defence News.
The defense agreement was signed during the two-day visit to India by the Brazilian defense minister. A few days earlier, India had finalized the purchase of six executive jets from the Brazilian aviation company Embraer, worth more than US$600 million. Analysts point out that the India-Brazil defense agreement has the potential to go far beyond the purchase of the Embraer jets, and that India's real interest is in procuring the air-surveillance system used in Brazil's SIVAM project. SIVAM, which stands for "System for Vigilance over the Amazon", is a $1.4 billion system that has been designed to provide surveillance of Brazil's immense and relatively underdeveloped Amazon rainforest region.
The objective of the SIVAM project, which was conceived in the 1990s but then ran into funding problems, in addition to its usefulness in the anti-drug war, was to monitor and curb a number of actions detrimental to the environment, specifically in the Amazon region, such as illegal deforestation. As a result, some observers noted, the SIVAM project was supported by environmentalists in agreement with industry executives that the surveillance system could be used for the direct and overt protection of environmental concerns.
The Indian interest in the SIVAM is centered around providing real time information on the illegal cross-border militant infiltration that takes place along the Line of Control in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has been a thorny issue between India and Pakistan for more than five decades.
Fernandes, accompanied by the Indian army deputy chief of staff, was in Brazil on a six-day official visit earlier in the year. During that visit, Fernandes learned of the SIVAM project. He also visited the Embraer facilities in Sao Jose de Campos and military establishments in Rio de Janeiro.
On July 25, 2002, Brazil's then president Henrique Cardoso inaugurated the SIVAM's initial operating ability, developed by Embraer and another Brazilian firm, ATECH, in cooperation with the US corporation Raytheon. Raytheon-supplied sensors - including synthetic aperture radars, multispectral scanners, optical infrared sensors, high frequency direction finding equipment and communications and non-communications exploitation gear - have been installed onto three remote sensing aircraft, modified versions of the Embraer ERJ-145. SIVAM's air traffic controls (ATC) and associated airspace surveillance provide Brazil, for the first time, with a comprehensive monitoring capability throughout the region. The system will contain 14 state-of-the-art Raytheon fixed base air traffic control radars and six transportable radars, supplemented by five existing government-furnished ATC radars.
These ground-based radars are augmented by five newly developed SIVAM airborne radars, also adapted ERJ-145s, outfitted with Raytheon and Swedish sensors. Collectively these radars provide an area-wide monitoring capability permitting vastly enhanced counter-smuggling, border surveillance and law enforcement operations over an area the size of the United States west of the Mississippi.
Besides the SIVAM project, which has definitely interested New Delhi, India is keen to develop its own airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system and install it on the Russia-supplied IL-76 frame. This is where Brazil surely can step in and help. The top AEW&C players in the US include Northrop Grumman, the Boeing Company and the Raytheon Company. Several other nations, such as Brazil, Israel, France, Britain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Russia and China, however, have developed their own products and have begun to compete in what has heretofore been a US monopoly in the AEW&C market.
AEW&C systems consist essentially of an aircraft platform and ground-control units. The aircraft is equipped with powerful radar housed in "top hats", rotodomes or nose-mounted radome suites used for long-range surveillance. The airplanes tend to be commercial frames that are customized for military use. Operators on board the aircraft control the radar and can direct warplanes in the theater through voice and data links, while they coordinate activities with the command and control (C2), and ground units.
AEW&C systems currently competing in the international market include Northrop Grumman's multi-role electronically scanned array (MESA), mounted on a Boeing 737-700 jet. Israel Aircraft Industries' ELTA Phalcon package can be modified and carried by aircraft ranging from a 707 to the Illyushin-76. Brazil's Embrarer employs the EMB-145 business jet to take Sweden's Ericsson ERIEYE electronics package aloft. India has good reason to show interest in the ERIEYE, a joint development effort by the Swedish Ericsson and the Brazilian Embrarer.
Nonetheless, it would be unwise to consider the SIVAM project as the only reason why these two large nations are getting together in the security-related area. Cardoso visited India in 1996, and this was returned by former Indian president K R Narayanan in 1998.
It is, however, the initiative of Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who came to assume his post in October, 1999, and the emergence of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as the president of Brazil last year, that provided the momentum for the recent developments. In his inaugural speech, Lula cited India as one of the priorities of Brazilian foreign policy. Vajpayee and Lula met at Lausanne, Switzerland, on June 2 this year.
In July 2001, India's minister of petroleum, Ram Naik, visited Brazil with the purpose of gathering data on the Brazilian experience of mixing ethanol to gasoline (PROALCOOL). Increasingly dependent on foreign oil, while simultaneously emerging as one of the largest sugar producers in the world, India has a natural interest in the production of ethanol.
A bilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the matter was signed between India and Brazil in April 2002. This document recognized Brazilian expertise in manufacturing ethanol, and called for joint research on bio-diesel. A mission from Brazil representing the Ministry of Development, Industry and Commerce and entrepreneurs from different sectors involved in the PROALCOOL, including the automotive sector, visited India in 2002. In April 2002, the India-Brazil Commercial Council was launched, and the two countries signed a MoU on technology-sharing and undertaking joint studies on blending ethanol with petrol and diesel.
The new council was launched at a gathering of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and visiting Brazilian Minister of Development Industry and Commerce, Sergio Silva do Amaral, who led a 33-member official-***-business delegation to New Delhi.
On information technology, the two countries have also begun to collaborate. India, being one of the leaders in this area, provided the necessary momentum. Pramod Mahajan, Indian Minister for Information Technology, Communications and Parliamentary Affairs, visited Brazil in 2001. Subsequently, a working group was set up to develop a cooperation program on e-banking, e-governance and electronic certification systems training, among other areas. The working group has already met twice, both in Brazil and India.
In February 2002, India's then-Minister of Science and Technology, Murli Manohar Joshi, visited Brazil, and his visit was reciprocated by his Brazilian counterpart, Ronaldo Sardenberg, in October 2002. A managing committee and a high-level scientific council were designated to recommend ways and means of implementing bilateral cooperation. In October 2002, the president of the Brazilian Council for the Development of Science and Technology headed a mission on biotechnology to India, and the two sides subsequently signed an agreement which will generate joint research in areas such as medicine, agriculture and bio-informatics.
But of all the trips, perhaps the most significant one was the visit to Brazil by Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha in June, at the invitation of Brazil's counterpart. The presence of businessmen in the delegation of Minister Yashwant Sinha made it evident to the Brazilians that the Indian government has moved away from supporting only its public sector enterprises and is now providing help and support to private-sector initiatives. During Sinha's visit, India and Brazil affirmed the unanimity in their views on most of the world's leading issues.
Both took note of the fact that while Brazil-India relations have vast economic and strategic potential, the momentum has only begun to pick up in recent days. Bilateral trade, which turned over an average $200 million annually in the mid-1990s, stood at $488.7 million in 2000, and had grown almost 70 percent one year later, totaling $828.1 million. In 2002, Brazil exported $653.6 million to India and imported $573 million, totaling $1,227 million. In addition to the increase in the volume of trade, greater diversification has occurred over the years in the items exchanged between both countries.
Also during Sinha's visit, on June 6, a historic trilateral Brazil, South Africa and India meeting took place in Brasilia to announce the formation of a new economic grouping, the G-3. South Africa's foreign minister had traveled to Brazil for the special meeting, which was taken note of all around the world because it took place soon after the G-8 meeting at Evian, France, where the heads of state of these three countries had discussed the global situation.
The Brasilia Declaration that followed put special emphasis on respecting the rule of international law, strengthening the United Nations and the Security Council and prioritizing the exercise of diplomacy as a means to maintain international peace and security. The three also agreed on the need to reform the United Nations, in particular the Security Council. They stressed the necessity of expanding the Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent member categories, with the participation of developing countries in both categories.
Subsequently, Brazil supported the induction of India as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. There was also unanimity between the three in identifying terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, drugs and drug-related crimes, transnational organized crime, illegal weapons traffic, threats to public health, in particular HIV/AIDS, natural disasters, and the maritime transit of toxic chemicals and radioactive waste as major security threats to the peace of all nations.
At the same time, the coordination between India and Brazil in multilateral economic fora has become ever more important for both countries, as became evident in the IV Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Doha in 2002. On that occasion, Brasilia notes that India's support of the Brazilian proposal was instrumental in the approval of the Declaration on Intellectual Property and Public Health.
Comparable technology bases
The optimization of India-Brazil cooperation will, however, depend on how well they can move jointly in three areas: space, nuclear power for commercial use and the aviation industry and its sub-systems. These are all strategic areas and the related technologies are jealously guarded by the developed nations. They also involve large capital investments.
But Brazil and India must move in these three areas, along with South Africa, because the G-3 can only make a real impact on behalf of the developing nations as a whole when they optimize their vast skill, manpower and potential to "free" these areas from the developed nations' oligopoly. There is little doubt that if these three nations put their right foot forward with adequate will and commitment, help may come in from some of the G-8 nations. It is almost a certainty that China would help.
India and Brazil can break the technological oligopoly of the developed nations because both have developed indigenously a huge array of technologies in these areas, and have developed as good a quality of skilled and specialized manpower as any developed nation can claim.
Both India and Brazil have well-advanced space programs. The Indian Space Research Organization, which is now celebrating its 40th anniversary, is in the process of planning for an un-manned moon mission in 2007. India has mastered rocket launching step-by-step, from the rocket that went up 200 feet in 1963 to the one that now puts indigenously-developed Indian INSAT groups of satellites into geo-stationary orbit. No one at this point in time doubts India's capability to send rockets to the moon, either.
The Brazilian program is younger, but has shown vigor. The Brazilian Complete Space Mission, intending to develop the whole cycle of space technology, was approved in 1979, with an initial goal of design, development, launching and operation of four small-size, low-orbit data collecting satellite (SCDs) and remote sensing satellites (SSRs), including the ground facilities and a laboratory for integration and testing; design, development and construction of a satellite launching vehicle (VLS); and design and implementation of a launch center at Alcantara (CLA). The program was later expanded, and its past and future programmed launches are: SCD1 (1993), SCD2 (1996), SCD2A (1997), SCD3 (1998), SSR1 (1998).
Brazil was an early member of Intelsat. Embratel used Intelsat capacity not only for international connection, but also leased capacity that was used by the Brazilian long distance operator, Telebras, for connection to remote regional centers.
Brazil's rocket program is centered on the VLS, a four-stage rocket comprised of a core and four strap-on motors. The first, or booster stage, has four solid fuel motors strapped to the center second-stage core motor. The VLS is designed to deploy 100 to 380 kilogram satellites into 200 to 1,200 kilometer equatorial circular orbits, or to deploy 75 to 275 kilogram payloads into 200 to 1,000 kilometer polar circular orbits. Configured as a missile, the VLS could fly 3,600 kilometers with a 500 kilogram payload. Brazil's rocket programs reportedly use Russian carbon fiber technology for the rocket motor cases. The press has reported, for example, the sale of test benches for liquid-fueled rocket motors developed with the assistance of Russian scientists, and instruction by Russian scientists in the use of liquid propellants.
In January 1996, Cardoso signed a bilateral accord with India on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which included clauses on technological and scientific information exchange. With neither country being a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the prospect of their utilizing nuclear power for non-violent means raised a red flag in the face of the nuclear-weapons states and many skeptical observers around the world. The proposed bilateral nuclear cooperation did not go anywhere.
Brazil, constantly under the thumb of international financial institutions, could hardly move. India, on the other hand, has developed a complete independent nuclear fuel cycle. It is now in the process of developing power reactors fueled by thorium and building a prototype 500 MW fast breeder reactor. In addition, Indian scientists and engineers are in the process of scaling-up their own 230 MW Candu natural uranium reactors into 500 MW reactors. It must be said that India, a non-signatory of the NPT and Missile Test Control Regime, has succeeded in preserving both its nuclear and missile programs, and progressing in both.
Brazil, which reportedly possesses the largest untapped quantities of thorium worldwide, suspended experimentation and research with the substance over 10 years ago. It is worth noting that shortly after Cardoso had given a call for increased bilateral trade between the two countries and his support for permanent Indian membership on the UN Security Council in 1997, in Bonn, Germany, the non-governmental organization Capoib lodged a formal protest against an EU Amazon project.
Capoib, the umbrella organization for groups supporting the effort to preserve the homelands of indigenous peoples of the Amazon, protested Brazilian government reforms concerning the demarcation of native lands in the region. It was obviously a pressure tactic. Brazil may consider countering this obvious move with some pressure of its own in the area of nuclear power for commercial use.
In addition to the three areas mentioned above, two other strategic areas exist where these two countries should cooperate. In Brazilian exporters' view, one of the most promising sectors is agribusiness, particularly the soybean complex, sugar and meats segments. According to one exporter, despite the investments that have been made and the measures taken to increase soybean crushing and refining domestically, India has still been increasing its soybean oil imports from Brazil. "In 1997, we sold a mere $23 million of the product; last year, Brazilian soybean oil exports surpassed $401 million," one Brazilian farm expert said.
The second strategic area is the crucial pharmaceuticals sector, controlled by a handful of "big fish" in the developed world. Indian pharmaceutical laboratories, which are big exporters of generic medication around the globe, are in the process of forming joint ventures or installing factories to operate in Brazil. The pioneers in this area were the Reddy Laboratory and Ranbaxy (producer of Lamivudina, a generic medicine used in the anti-AIDS cocktail), which launched joint ventures in Sao Paulo in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Aurobindo, Strides Arcolab, Zeus (Core Health Care/Claris Lifesciences) and Torrent followed suit after an official visit by Brazilian Minister of Health Jose Serra to India in July 2000. Various other Indian laboratories are also scouting the country to form associations or install representation.
Clearly, there is more to the India-Brazil relationship than military hardware.