Indo-Portuguese Bilateral Relations – All India Radio (AIR) IAS UPSC

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  • March 4, 2020
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Indo-Portuguese Bilateral Relations


Search 14th February 2020 Current Affair here: 

Topic: General Studies 2

  • India’s relationship with other countries – Portugal

Five hundred years ago, after Vasco da Gama’s belligerent arrival in Calicut, the Portuguese were busy transforming the Indian subcontinent into a strategic hub for their Asian empire, opening the way for the world’s first era of globalisation. Today, the tables have turned. While Portugal struggles with recession and austerity, India is emerging globally, supporting International Monetary Fund bailouts in Europe and projecting power across Africa and the Indian Ocean region. 

The seven-day visit of Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa has the potential to mark the beginning of a new era, one in which beyond the purely bilateral level, both countries could develop trilateral partnerships across the Portuguese-speaking world, from Brazil to Timor-Leste.

Exploring potential

Become a part of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries: Indian government must express formal interest to become a part of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, founded in 1996, which is based on Commonwealth and Francophonie organisations and has all nine Portuguese-speaking countries as its members. 

Host a strategic and economic dialogue between Indian and Portuguese-speaking officials and other stakeholders in Goa: Like China opted, India could benefit from hosting a less formal, semi-official and annual Track-2 dialogue. India’s trade volume with the Portuguese-speaking economies and Macau has grown six-fold in just ten years, currently peaking at $20 billion, which is similar to the total trade volumes with Germany and Japan. Given Portugal’s extraordinary experience in the development sector in Lusophone Africa, Brazil’s new capabilities there, and India’s willingness to become a collaborative player in the sector, there is also great potential for triangulating assistance and setting up collaborative projects.

India and Portugal must work together to meet across Africa: On the maritime front, the security of the Indian Ocean begins in the Atlantic, and vice-versa, demanding greater cooperation and coordination. The Portuguese, Brazilian, Angolan, Mozambican and Indian navies should establish a closer dialogue and joint exercises with a focus on out-of-area deployment, non-conventional maritime threats such as piracy, and other security trends in the Southern Indo-Atlantic region.

Explore a potential convergence in various military-technical cooperation domains, including under the Community of Portuguese Language Countries umbrella, which has been developing the idea of a joint CPLP peacekeeping force and training missions. On the defence industry side, the Indian Air Force has made a variety of acquisitions from Brazil’s Embraer, including VIP jets, which have been serviced at Portugal’s OGMA aeronautical hub, indicating another area of potential trilateral cooperation. Lisbon and Delhi should also cooperate on the shipbuilding front, developing vessels and technologies to be exported to Mozambique and Timor-Leste.

Pool efforts in terms of culture, education and technology: India and Portugal can also pool efforts to develop human resources and technical capacity in Portuguese-speaking countries. Hundreds of Portuguese-speaking students and government officials arrive every year in India under the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programmes. To moderate linguistic and cultural barriers, these could be jointly trained in institutions in Goa and in Portugal. On the cultural level, a Lusophone Institute in Goa could also play a catalytic role as hub to increase research collaboration between Indian and Lusophone institutions. In 2008, Brazil sponsored Goa’s Carnival celebrations. Goa’s state archives include thousands of valuable historical documents on India’s links with Brazil, Mozambique, and Timor that are in dire need for closer study and preservation. At the science and technology levels, there is also great potential for research in the maritime domain in collaboration with India’s National Institute of Oceanography.

So, what has happened?

  • Several MOUs have been executed for the corporation in sectors such as industrial and intellectual property rights, maritime transport and port development, mobility and start-ups. Further discussions were held related to infrastructure and real estate, with a tie-up made with a Portuguese telecom infrastructure company.
  • India has been offered to use Portuguese expertise in tourism and renewable energy
  • Exchange expertise to be initiated in ICT (Information and Communication Technology),  environment, water and sanitation, public works and construction, since both countries are good at it.
  • Electric mobility business: An agreement has been signed on mobility
  • Enhance India-EU ties: It surely is a good time for India to invest in Portugal, not only to strengthen ties with the EU but because of Portugal’s prospective relation with the Great Britain post-Brexit.
  • Goa, the common link: India has suggested President Marcelo to initiate a government to government partnership in Goa, to enhance tourism and coastal tourist activities with the help of Portugal’s know-how in the field, thus converting the state of Goa into a mini Portugal.

It is now time for Portugal and India to revive this legacy and explore its economic potential in the 21st century and strategically couch their relationship in the context of the Portuguese-speaking countries.

Connecting the Dots:

  • Can Portugal be the much needed doorway to India-EU ties? Comment.

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