The ties between Israel and India are growing stronger each year. India is buying Israeli companies and establishing more joint ventures between the nations.
“We work with small and marginal farmers and we have a lot of problems in terms of water and productivity,” Dr. Suchita Bhandari, the business head of Bold Tree Tech Ltd.
“We find Israel has managed these things very well so we are looking to have the transfer of technology from Israel to India.” Some 80% of India’s population of 1.1 billion works in agriculture.
“We do agro-forestry, so we are good with trees,” she said. “But we are looking to increase the production of the vegetable crops in between. I am looking for better seeds, better water management, better harvesting, and better value chain management.”
She was one of 23 Indian businesspeople, politicians and academics who met their counterparts in Israel this week for the sixth India-Israel forum, sponsored by the Aspen Institute of India and Tel Aviv University. The meeting aims to deepen ties between the countries, and in some cases, to cut out the middle man.
Common goals, closer relations
“The purpose is to broaden and deepen relations between Israel and India,” said Gary Sussman, a consultant who arranged this year’s forum. “Think of it as academic diplomacy. We’ve established ourselves as the premier Track Two India-Israel diplomacy.”
The two countries also have shared political goals. Both nuclear powers, they are facing a growing threat from neighboring Islamist extremists. Both also have growing economies, with an emphasis on technology.
“The economic potential between Israel and India, and specifically within the high tech sector, is huge,” Ayal Moskal, the Israel country manager for TATA Consultancy Services told The Media Line. “Both sides have come to realize they should come together directly and not through any third party. In the past, the connections between Israel and India have been made by US companies. They come to Israel to purchase some innovations, then they move the production to India. If we join forces, we can conquer the economic world.”
Israel and India have long had an extensive military relationship totaling approximately $9 billion each year. Israel has sold India advanced weapons systems and planes and the two countries hold joint military drills annually. India has also recently launched a military satellite for Israel.
Now the economic sector is catching up. The Indian company Jain’s recently bought the Israeli drip irrigation company Naan-Dan that had been run by two kibbutzim in Israel. Other Israeli irrigation companies also have a strong presence in India.
The two countries are in the midst of negotiating a free-trade agreement which would expand the scope of trade significantly.
Another field of close cooperation is cyber security. According to Israeli media reports, cyber terrorists recently shut down the Carmel Tunnels Road in Haifa for almost eight hours, causing massive traffic jams and hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. Israel has long been a leader in the field of cyber security, while India has specialized in software development.
“Cyber security could be the trigger on which the next battle is fought --- you have to hone your skills all the time,” Sublimal Bhattacharjee, an Indian expert on cyber security told The Media Line.
It is often difficult to trace where attacks are coming from. “Attribution is still difficult,” he said. “It could be someone sitting in one country and using the network of another country to attack a third country.”
Given India’s huge population and still-developing economy, there is room for even more cooperation between the two countries, say Israeli officials.
“The big story is the direction the relationship is moving in,” Shimon Mercer-Wood, an India expert at the Israeli foreign ministry told The Media Line. “India is about 17 percent of the population of the world. It’s a huge economic sphere and its importance as a political player is continuously increasing. There are many joint values and joint interests on the basis of which the relationship can grow to become a truly strategic one.”
Article written by Linda Gradstein
Reprinted with permission from The Media Line
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