Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
PM Modi became the first Indian PM to visit Israel. It will mark 25 years of diplomatic relations being normalized between both nations. The three main components of cooperation between both countries have been:
While focus of PM is to expand the 25 years old relationship through FTAs and bilateral agreements in water, agriculture, and trade, cooperation in areas of defence, cyber security and homeland security remain the highlight of meetings.
India can derive great benefits from Israel’s novel irrigation methods, agriculture techniques and water desalination techniques. India is world’s biggest importer of defence equipment and of late Israel has become one of its major suppliers.
Importance of visit
The defence relation with Israel has been for many years but India wants to focus on enormously expanding the water relationship with Israel. In this meeting, Water formed the major part of the talks with Israel. Israel is by far world’s no. 1 country in terms of recycling, conservation, waste water usage, and desalination of water. It is interesting to note that just six years ago it faced major drought situation.
At present, Israel recycles 86% of its waste water. Half of farm water is from recycled water which presents a successful model of water conservation and optimum utilization of available resource. The next country with higher water recycling capacity is Spain with 20%. So Israel has 4 times better use of water technology.
Simple things like leaking pipes being repaired are ways to water management, Israel has 9% of leaking pipes whereas 40% of Delhi’s water is lost in leaking pipes and India then faces water shortages and called as an extremely water stressed nation!
Similarly, water harvesting is important to India and Israel’s pioneering role can be of great help to India.
Relationship with Israel is multi-dimensional: economic, technological cooperation and defence and security cooperation.
When the Indian embassy was opened in 1992 in Israel, one of the first person to be sent by Indian PM was MS Swaminathan. There was a clear mandate of what India could do with Israel particularly in agriculture and water harvesting apart from solar technology.
There is collaboration between India and Israel for design and development of 3 varieties of missiles of different ranges. This shows that quality of cooperation is going to keep increasing.
Israel depends on external friendly states to subsidies their defence R&D. US accounts for 80% of funds into Israel for military R&D. India is also entering into that area with missile collaboration, thereby creating and developing defence capabilities.
There is a joint working group between India and Israel on combating terrorism. Israeli technology is foremost in border management whether it is Golan heights, Gaza strip or west bank. They use lot of technology for surveillance, tracking, intelligence etc. There has been good relationship between two countries where they have given technological solutions to stop the infiltration of jihadi elements across LOC. However, some of the things don’t work due to geographically different terrain. Many of such equipment have buried under snow, resulting into loss of such costly equipment. So India and Israel need to find innovative solutions for such technologies, suitable to Indian terrain and climate.
Why delay in visiting Israel?
There were high level exchanges earlier but it is the first time Indian PM visited Israel. This shows that the external factors affected such visits in the past. There were ideological differences prevailing post both the countries’ independence from colonial rule. India’s foreign policy was influenced by the Cold War alignments, while at the same time, newborn India did not want to alienate its considerably large Muslim minority and hence were more sympathetic towards Arabs and principally supported a unified Palestine. However, when ideological constraints begin to impact the national interests, problems creep in. However, though India became very close with Israel subsequently mainly in military and intelligence, it was never acknowledged explicitly. Hence, this is a very symbolic visit to unshackle India’s policy from the ideological constraints and to firmly place it in realm of national interest.
Importance of acknowledgement
Israel’s aid with laser guided aircraft during Kargil war helped India counter the infiltration and winning the war. It also helped during the 1962 war with China by providing with strategic advice and powerful arms.
Israel had always been the one who has supported India with defence arms and also been a supportive ally. Thus, it was a need to publicly accept India’s strong relationship with Israel.
So far, it has not costed India anything with any other country. Many Arab countries have taken India seriously post increasing ties with Israel. Ever since India has established relations with Israel, the trade with Arab countries has gone up to many fold. King Abdulla visited after 54 years, king of UAE visited after 40 years. All of them are developing trade ties and further strengthening the relations.
Amidst talks of cooperation, India has initiated to de-hyphenate the relations between Israel (only Jewish nation in world) and Palestine. Yet Palestine remains a good friend. India supports them and has also abstained out from UNSC voting. Though India and Israel share good relations, it has principally condemned use of force in Gaza strip in 2014.
Also, Palestine wants India to play greater role in Arab-Israeli conflict as India has relations with both.
There is a need to move away from the compulsion of balancing. For last 30-40 years, India’s stand have been defensive and have reacted to events. The time has come to show the requisite confidence in dealing with other countries (conduct of India’s foreign policy) based on India’s national interest. The underlying effort on India’s part is to optimize relationship with spectrum of countries.
With Israel, there is counter terrorism agreement between both countries, sharing of intelligence of various militant groups. Make in India is important for defence production and partnership. Other prominent areas are cooperation in water desalination methods and agriculture technologies.
However, the people to people component remains weak which needs to be increased. Also, the commercial relations are still limited to 5billion dollars in trade if defence is excluded. This needs to be expanded more. In all, there is tremendous scope between India and Israel to forge a strong partnership for long term.
Connecting the dots:
Though there was strong relation between India and Israel, the partnership has been acknowledged only recently. Examine the reasons for the same along with the areas of connection.