Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrived for his first official visit to India on Friday aiming to boost ties between the two stuttering BRICS economies and with fellow right-wing leader Narendra Modi.

Critics call both men authoritarian and populist in the mould of leaders like US President Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Viktor Orban in Hungary.

Modi, facing more than a month of protests over a new citizenship law, has never given a proper press conference as prime minister and Bolsonaro said this week he would no longer give interviews.

Bolsonaro, accompanied by ministers and business leaders for the four-day visit, is this year's guest of honour at Republic Day celebrations on Sunday when India showcases its military might and culture.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is this year's guest of honour at India's Republic Day
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is this year's guest of honour at India's Republic Day AFP / Prakash SINGH

"It will be an opportunity to re-energise our strategic partnership and take it forward in a focused manner," an official at the Indian foreign ministry said.

Trade between India and Brazil -- part of the BRICS group with Russia, China and South Africa -- has risen in recent years, but reaching only a relatively modest $8.2 billion in 2018-19.

Neither economy is doing well, with Brazil narrowly averting a fresh recession last year and Indian growth hitting a six-year low and unemployment its highest in four decades.

The two sides are expected to sign nearly two dozen agreements on agriculture, defence and energy cooperation, including investments in the hydrocarbon sector amid political crises in oil-producing nations like Venezuela and Iran.

Differences over sugar may sour the mood, however, with Brazil unhappy about India's sugar subsidies. Some small protests by Indian sugar farmers were expected during the visit.