Event ReportsPublished on Sep 13, 2019
India-Israel relations in promoting unilateral action in regulation, innovation and information-sharing.
India-Israel: A steady partnership in unsteady times
India and Israel have enjoyed strong bilateral ties since 1950 with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru reiterating India’s position on the recognition of Israel as a state. Today, India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest defence supplier to India after Russia. India is Israel’s third-largest Asian trade partner, and tenth-largest trade partner overall. Relations further expanded during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration, with India abstaining from voting against Israel in the United Nations in several resolutions. Apart from the above, India and Israel have been engaging in expanding diplomatic ties through bilateral talks and coalition initiatives towards agricultural cooperation, water accessibility and oil and natural gas cooperation. ORF organised a brainstorming session on ‘India-Israel Relations: Steady Partners in an Unsteady World.’ The discussion was pioneered by His Excellency Ron Malka and moderated by Professor Harsh Pant, Director for Strategic Studies at ORF. The discussion commenced with Prof. Pant describing the status quo of an ever growing partnership between India and Israel and highlighted challenges which may be faced by the two nations in the future. H.E. Ron Malka introduced the discussion by drawing emphasis on his journey to becoming the ambassador of Israel to India, while showcasing the importance India holds as a strategic trade partner for Israel. He elaborated on the historic bond between the two states which was formalised in 1992 and its consolidation. The stability of the world being Israel’s prima facie goal, puts India at the epicentre due to it being the world’s largest democracy and stabilising agent in tumultuous times. H.E. Ron Malka applauded India’s role as a driver for innovation and strong economy, making it an important player in the international domain. He also discussed the status quo of the bilateral initiatives between the two states towards achieving goals of sustainable development and trade expansion. As a key motivating factor being the facilitation of innovation, there has been a strategic partnership between India and Israel in the agricultural sector. The India-Israel agricultural project has shown extreme promise and is of utmost importance to both states. There are about 28 centres for excellence in agriculture all over India that are essential endeavours towards sharing of resources, know-how, best practices and technology between the two states. In 2018, 1, 47,000 farmers in India were trained in these centres of excellence. Israel hopes to keep the growth in these centres steady and further expand them into smaller villages around existing major centres. The aim of this project is to introduce villages to cutting edge technologies in filtration and water usage to promote precision in agriculture. Within this, usage of satellites and drones to monitor crops for the exact amount of water, fertiliser and nutrition each plant needs to increase efficiency in a way that yield is promised. H.E. Ron Malka highlighted the next important strategic partnership to be of water security. He highlighted Israel’s low starting point with water as large parts of it were covered in barren desert land and witnessed 50% decrease in rainfall for 70 years. However, Israel combatted it by technologically developing an abundance of clean water and also supplied the same to neighbours. Israel not only increased supply (desalination and filtration are part of it) but also promoted efficient usage. Israel is keen to share its technical know-how and innovation with India. H.E. Ron Malka went on to talk about his role in actively promoting new fields, specifically, financial markets and fiscal interdependence with emphasis on increasing ease in conducting business between the two nations. He illustrated the same by highlighting recent exchanges between delegations from SEBI and Israel Securities Authority, and the meeting between the governors of the Bank of Israel and RBI. H.E. Ron Malka concluded by reiterating the need to promote unilateral action in terms of sound regulation, to give birth to innovative techniques and information-sharing between the two nations. The talk was followed by a fruitful Q&A session where important questions regarding the geopolitical predisposition of Israel, the stability in the Middle East, the Iran equation and the cultural exchanges between India and Israel were posed to H.E. Ron Malka. There were interesting insights offered by H.E. Ron Malka in these regards and the session was wrapped up with Prof. Pant leaving us with some food for thought.
This report was prepared by Shreepath Jain, a research intern at ORF New Delhi.
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