On Wednesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro agreed to be the Chief Guest at India’s 71st Republic Day celebrations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in Brazil for the 11th BRICS Summit, had extended the invitation to Bolsonaro during a meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the conference.
The Rio de Janeiro-based O Globo newspaper reported Bolsonaro saying that during his visit, he would be holding talks on trade agreements and on improving cooperation in areas such as biofuels and science and technology.
Last month, Bolsonaro’s government waived the visa requirement for Indians visiting Brazil.
Last year, another leader from the BRICS group, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, was the Republic Day Chief Guest.
Explained: Who is President Jair Bolsonaro?
Bolsonaro won the country’s presidential elections late last year after running on a far-right platform that many likened to that of US President Donald Trump.
For many years, Bolsonaro had been on the fringes of Brazilian politics, but was suddenly propelled to prominence after a major corruption scandal-tainted the image of the country’s mainstream political class.
The disenchantment with politicians was coupled with anxiety over an economic recession that was considered to be the worst in 100 years.
In that situation, Bolsonaro was able to successfully brand himself as an anti-establishment crusader.
During his campaign and even after taking office at the beginning of this year, Bolsonaro has faced stiff opposition in Brazil for his far-right views.
He has made several controversial remarks on race, gender, and sexual orientation, and has praised Brazil’s military dictatorship era of 1964-1985.
When a female legislator in Brazil accused him of being a rapist, Bolsonaro said, “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.”
Bolsonaro has also said that he “would be incapable of loving a homosexual son” and has described having a daughter as a “weakness”.
How is India’s Republic Day Chief Guest chosen?
The Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade is accorded India’s highest honour in protocol terms.
Apart from the main event of reviewing the Republic Day parade with the President of India, the Chief Guest’s visit includes the ceremonial guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan, an evening reception hosted by the President, laying of a wreath at Rajghat, a banquet in the Chief Guest’s honour, a lunch hosted by the Prime Minister, and calls by the Vice-President and the External Affairs Minister.
The process of extending the invitation to a Head of State or Government starts around 6 months ahead of Republic Day. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) considers several issues, most importantly the nature of India’s relationship with the country concerned.
Next, the Prime Minister’s approval is sought, followed by a clearance from the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
India’s ambassadors in the concerned countries then try to ascertain discreetly the potential Chief Guests’ programme and availability for Republic Day.
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