Newdelhi:4/7/17;Defence, agriculture, trade, diplomacy and water management will dominate talks during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ongoing visit to Israel — the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Jewish homeland. Apart from from his scheduled official engagements, Modi is also expected to meet Moshe Holtzberg, a survivor of the 2008 Mumbai 26/11 terrorist attack. Moshe was two years old when the attack happened.
“Ahead of the visit, both countries have prepared a roadmap of joint economic undertakings,” The Haaretz reported on June 29, 2017. “The Israeli cabinet approved a 23-page document continuing scores of bilateral measures and a budget of 280 million shekels (about $79.6 million or Rs 514 crore) — a bigger sum than Israel has ever set aside for China, Africa and Latin America combined. No fewer than 11 ministries were involved in preparing the programme.”
Here are five things that define the India-Israel relationship today:
Defence: India is Israel’s top destination for arms exports, buying 41 per cent of export between 2012 and 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent global conflict and arms-research institute.
Diplomacy: Several ministerial and high-level official visits to Israel preceded Modi’s tour. These included visits by then Home Minister L.K. Advani in 2000, former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2008, Home Minister Rajnath Singh in 2014, President Pranab Mukherjee in 2015 and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in 2016.
Agriculture: An Indo-Israel agriculture action plan for 2015-18 is operational, and 15 of the proposed 26 centres of excellence in agriculture are being developed in India with Israel’s help to showcase the latest technology to Indian farmers.
Water Management: On June 28, 2017, the Union cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Israel on the National Campaign for Water Conservation in India.
Trade: Israel was India’s 38th-largest trading partner, with trade of $5.02 billion (Rs 33,634 crore) in 2016-17, down 18 per cent over 2012-13. The trade balance stood in India’s favour at $1.10 billion (Rs 7,370 crore) in 2016-17.
The Israeli government has proposed measures such as “offering export insurance, liberalising the aviation sector and granting longer-term visas”. The aim is to boost Israeli exports to India by 25 per cent over the next four years and tourists to 80,000 annually.