Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Current visit of Israel President to India
With current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to India, it is a welcome visit as it a long time since the Israeli Head of State has been to India. First Presidential visit took place by Ezer Weizman around 20 years ago in 1997.
This visit is the mark of growing India-Israel relationship which will further consolidate ties between two countries. Overall the government policy is to have strong relations with Israel and continue to have deep relations with Arab countries as well in west Asia.
The India Israel relations are set to reach a new high with two countries signing agreements on water resources management and agriculture.
The relation between two countries is growing steadily but there is not any particular period which it can be categorised into.
When India and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1992, the trade turnover was 200 million dollars. By 2001, it was close to a billion dollar and today it is 5 billion dollar trade. Thus, there has been a steady upward progression in trade relations. However, the trade has stagnated since 2012. The reason is that the global trade itself is not growing after 2008. In last two years, India’s overall export performance has not been great in the sense that because the world market conditions have declined in some months and stabilised in others.
However, the opportunities for trade will continue to exist. One is the upward-downward movement in Indo-Israeli trade in global market for diamonds. Diamonds constitute large part of import market and polished diamonds as part of export market in India.
There exists potential for increase in trade growth of Indian market for specialised goods like medical equipment as Israelis have a strong, medical imaging technology. On Indian side, some of the manufactured goods that are made in India will find place in Israeli markets with increased sophistication. There is cooperation in services sector too. The Israelis are known for strengths in software and hardware and India is known for software.
Israel is ready to Make in India and Make with India. Israel has effective small start-up companies that have grown out of incubators which have extremely advanced technology. They may not be able to invest very large sum on the scales of global multinationals, but they can certainly come to India and invest in Indian companies in joint ventures with India, that may propel immense growth.
India formally recognised Israel in 1950. Embassies were opened in 1992 when full diplomatic relations were established. In last few years, there has been acceleration of high level visits. President of India had visited Israel in 2016. 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries which will be celebrated by Indian PM visiting Israel, becoming the first Prime Minister of India to visit the country.
Over the years, the Indian government has toned down its reactions to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. India is no longer initiating anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and has made serious attempts to moderate NAM’s anti-Israel resolutions. This re-evaluation has been based on a realisation that India’s largely pro-Arab stance in West Asia has not been adequately rewarded by the Arab world. There have been no serious attempts by the Arab world to put pressure on Pakistan to reign in cross-border terrorism in Kashmir.
Israel has also extended support for India’s permanent UNSC membership by expressing confidence in India’s position and record on how India is perceived globally.
Israel has had a consistent policy of supporting India on counter terrorism and in terms of development of capabilities of preventing terrorism as well as countering it. India is the world’s largest buyer of Israeli weaponry and was Israel’s third largest trading partner in Asia in 2013, just after China and Hong Kong.
Cooperation with Israel is not limited to purchase of advanced equipment of weaponry or surveillance equipment, but also in terms of joint training and sharing intelligence in areas like cyber security.
The emphasis on working together in field of counter terrorism in India is very important. The joint statement issued by Israel President and Indian PM speak about the main source of terrorism afflicting India which comes from across the western border of India. So, it is a signal to work together against this source of threat. It also states that the international community must act with resolve and determination against terror network and states who harbour them. This is a well-crafted statement which suggests that international community has to deal with state sponsored terrorism as well as states which turn a blind eye or claim not to have control over their own territory.
India Israel defence relation have been on an upward trajectory for some time and now is the time to make defence ties more broad based. It means that Israeli technology will be brought into India as part of defence manufacturing in India rather than India being only a purchaser. The quantum leap in India’s defence relationship with Israel started during Kargil conflict. Now, the emphasis is on manufacturing defence equipment in India, creating capabilities and R&D for defence equipment. Israel defence industry and government could play a critical role in it as their R&D is strong, their domestic manufacturing capabilities are diverse as well as sophisticated. They have a role to play in development of manufacturing sector of defence industry in India.
Agreement in water resource management and agriculture
In the early years of India-Israel cooperation, lot of emphasis was given to agriculture. Many states of India have shown great interest in Israeli technology in agriculture and managing scarce water resources. The R&D in these areas has been one of important elements in the bilateral relations. The agricultural institutes of Israel continue to have Indian research scientists and number of joint ventures in animal husbandry, agriculture and water management equipment have come up in India with Israeli technology.
Fifteen centres of excellence in agriculture have already been commissioned and India has benefited from Israeli expertise and technologies in horticulture mechanisation, protected cultivation, orchard and canopy management, nursery management, micro-irrigation and post-harvest management particularly in Haryana and Maharashtra. Israeli drip irrigation technologies and products are now widely used in India.
New areas of cooperation for mutual benefit
Education, particularly higher education in technology and advanced science.
New and pioneering forms of renewable energy
Collaboration in sports technology
Areas of pharmaceuticals and life sciences
Apart from science & technology, defence and trade, there is literature and culture where two countries share profound relations.
Since the upgradation of relations in 1992, defence and agriculture have been the main pillars of bilateral engagement. The future is bright with areas like high technology, pharmaceuticals, equipment related to water management and agriculture.
There is consensus that both countries work together in this partnerships and deliver it for the citizens. This visit is a signal of the direction to be followed by both.
Connecting the dots:
India and Israel have come a long way in establishing themselves as important partners in world. Critically evaluate the bilateral relation between two countries.