- Nov 18 2016
Welcome address by ORF Director Sunjoy Joshi
HE Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, Honorable President of the State of Israel, Ambassador Carmon, Dr. Naushad Forbes, President of the Confederation of Indian Industry, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen..
It gives us immense pleasure, and delight to welcome HE President Ruvi Rivlin at a time when the two countries are marking twenty five years of India-Israel diplomatic relations. Years that have steadily seen the partnership evolve and mature to a position of strength and stability.
Sir, thank you for giving us this opportunity to host this forum jointly organised by the ORF, and the CII, India’s most prolific and respected industry chamber, along with the Embassy of Israel. We are all looking forward to this evening’s oration to lay out the contours of your vision for this relationship and help indicate the blueprint for the onward journey of our nations together.
Through the past twenty five years, through the thick and thin of it all, Israel and India have enjoyed a unique relationship born at the very basics out of admiration and respect for each other. The mutual appreciation for each other’s cultures, our national concerns and the causes we stood for, our joint commitment to mutual prosperity and growth, have always served to reinforce our ties even when global politics may have positioned us in opposite corners of the ring.
The Israel-India partnership, has always so far been a source of reassurance for us. Common security concerns have made defence technology ties between our two nations a critical component of our bilateral relation. Needless to say these elements continue to be vital today and will remain one of the cornerstones of our future as well.
I am reminded of something the Defence Minister of Israel had very aptly said at a lecture hosted by ORF two years ago. The India-Israel relationship, he said was now being “brought out of the closet.”
The joint threats faced by us in the past had already cemented out trust. Now the new emerging realities of the world enable us to rise beyond the constraints of the last century to forge a new open, broad and robust alliance that moves beyond. Having brought this relationship out of the closet now is the opportunity to unlock it’s full potential.
That is what makes Excellency your visit so special. The determination of the two countries to craft a new comprehensive partnership. One that, even as it continues its vigorous engagements in existing areas, is rearing to g on to become multi-sectoral in dimension. One that seeks to serve the aspirations of the people of our two countries by moving into contemporary domains, opening new frontiers. Let me briefly indicate three of these:
First, in a resource constrained world, the rich experience, knowledge and learnings from Israel in core traditional sectors like agriculture can enable us to re-imagine the opportunities offered by the land economy. Battling climate change and environmental degradation, the sharing of Israeli technological know-how and scientific innovations can give huge benefits by incorporating greater efficiency in resource management with higher productivity for the benefit of small cultivators. I know Sir, this sector has been a key focus area of your visit which I am sure will spur greater efforts by the two countries and their institutions.
Second, comes another area of strength. Cyberspace. Again in this sphere, so far, cyber security has already been one strong element of our partnership.
But in the coming years, as the digital economy gathers steam and the Internet of Things take over — India and Israel are poised to be one of the early movers and shakers, the influential stakeholders. As you would have seen in the long queues outside every bank branch in the country, India is in the throes of converting the very nature of its economy from a traditional cash based system.
As a tool for liberating and empowering citizens, right down to the last mile, the new digital platforms can be the transformative drivers spearheading economic change, and delivering effective democracy through better cleaner governance. In Israel, we are seeing a whole ecosystem of innovation being commercialised around distributed ledger systems or block chain technologies that powered the bitcoin. These are technologies set to completely change the banking and financial sector over the next few years.
But more importantly, Israeli tech companies have been at the forefront in exploring the potential of distributed ledger systems and other technologies to unleash the power of decentralised models, for not just the use of banking, finance and commerce but even for governance and the delivery of services and benefits to the bottom of the pyramid.
That brings us to the third focus area which lies in building capacity in the untapped human resources of our countries. Joining together in skilling and knowledge creation that can propel our human resource to become value creators and integral elements of the global value chain. Tel Aviv and Bangalore exemplify the extant complementarities that can forge this symbiotic relationship between us.
So, do India and Israel together become the powerhouses for driving the growth of the digital economy that Prime Minister Modi has been laying so much emphasis on? Israel offers India an offshore innovation hub with best in class regulations and policies for a wider economic partnership to flourish. India for its part, by its sheer size, offers strategic economic depth.
Of course these are just a few sweeping thoughts, Sir, straws in the wind I should say, hinting at the wide range of possibilities for the future. And through the course of this visit, you have been paving the way for setting the agenda of a new chapter in this partnership. A partnership that is determined to be a force for peace, stability and prosperity for both the countries and the region.
No doubt this is a relationship that will continue to see political and economic investment from both sides. Therefore, Sir, your visit is indeed a pivotal moment. For this reason we are all eagerly waiting to hear tour thoughts for the future.
But before I invite HE the President to deliver the address this evening, there remains our little welcome ritual.. for which I like to request Dr. Naushad Forbes to come forward and welcome HE in our traditional mode by presenting him with a shawl.
May I request all of you gathered this evening all to join me in welcoming the President of Israel Ruvi Rivlin to the podium.