Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Israel visit, the first of an Indian premier in the past 70 years, comes as a pleasant development, pregnant with possibilities to accelerate cooperation in the fields of trade, defence, agriculture, science and technology and so on between two countries. The whole nation of Israel welcomed Modi with unprecedented warmth with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin going beyond their protocol norms in welcoming Modi, which only manifests how important India is for Israel and vice versa. Modi, on his part, did not club Palestine or any middle-east country in his itinerary for Israel. He kept his visit solely dedicated for Israel, a pointer to the fact that India attaches too much importance to Israel. MoUs worth over US $5 billion were signed
during Modi’s visti. It, however, does not mean that India will ever like to compromise with its ties with the middle-east Muslim countries, who are equally important for us.
Israel is an epitome of achieving excellence against all odds and deficiencies. This small country has optimally utilised every available resources so prudently that its success story is inspiring for those nations which wish to be self-reliant by metamorphosing constraints into opportunities. From agriculture to defence to trade to science and technology to water management, Israel has exhibited its cutting edge technologies so fantastically, thus can help India in more ways than one in overcoming myriad problems and challenges we are facing in the fields of science, technology, defence and agriculture. Though India is already having bilateral trade with Israel, there is lot of scope for further expansion, which has been going on since the day when Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao established full diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992.
It is true that Israel remains India’s most trusted security and defence partner, but New Delhi can benefit a lot from Israel’s agriculture technology, which will play a key role in fully realising the country’s food security mission. There is a huge scope for investments in start-ups. According to the report titled ‘Collaborative Innovation: The Vehicle driving Indo-Israel prosperity’ states that a cumulative cross-border investment of US $25 billion into Indian and Israeli start-ups by 2025 can create 25 world class products across different sectors. Nearly one thousand Israeli
start-up compaies are working in China. The bilateral trade between Beijing and Israel is pegged at US $13 billion while that of India and Israel stands at only US $ 5 billion. During 2012-16, India’s share in Israel’s defence export was 41 pe cent. However, Russia remains India’s largest defence supplier with 68 per cent, US 14 per cent and
Israel 7.2 per cent.
Prime Minister Modi has, however, dropped more than enough hints that he means business and the CEO in him was at his best at Tel Avin on July 6 when he was addressing CEOs of Israel. “We have resolved number of regulatory and policy issues facing businesses and companies. We have worked very sincerely for ease of doing business,” he Modi said at the launch of India- Israel CEOs Forum. He referred to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and elaborated how Indai was moving towards modern tax regime, which is ‘transparent, stable and predictable.’ He
rightly shared with the CEOs that his government was ‘positioning’ India as a global manufacturing hub with a view to taking advantage of the young population.
“…potential not only in markets but in creating new possibilities, new opportunities. We just saw this in crop protection or in water, the cleaning of water, or in energy, or in any field, in any field,” said Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. It is heartening indeed to note that India-Israel CEOs Forum has set the target to increase the bilateral trade from the current US $4.13 billion to US $20 billion within five years. The forum has also formed six joint committees covering start-ups, pharma and life sciences, homeland security, agriculture, energy and water management. Needless to say, Modi has added a new dimension to India-Israel bilateral ties, which will lead
to many great things in years to come.
(The writer is Director, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Chandigarh. Views are his personal)