Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Netanyahu's Jerusalem Residence, July 4, 2017.
(photo credit: screenshot)
On Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to Israel for a 48-hour visit, accompanied by a delegation of senior businessmen.
The visit, taking place after a long period of anticipation, symbolizes the outstanding relations between the two democracies, relations initiated 25 years ago. These relations were developed and evolved through the past two-and-a-half decades and reached their peak in the past two years. Trade grew from $200 million to about $4.5 billion in 2016 (excluding diamonds). Taking into account the characteristics of Indian economy, said amount is still very far from the potential.
However, the evolution of Indo-Israeli relations goes far beyond mere figures of trade. India is the largest democracy in the world and anticipated to be the youngest and strongest economy within the next two decades. These characteristics, as well as India’s relations with other countries throughout Asia and our region, and shared values with Israel, position India as a strategic partner and even ally.
The relationship between the two countries is considered strategic by both and as such has been supported by the recent government decision to invest NIS 280m. in four years to enhance it even further and to increase the trade by 25% in the same period.
Moreover, one of the objects of said plan is to enhance cultural relations and bring the story of Israel to the hearts of 1.3 billion Indians.
India is a vivid democracy comprised of 29 states and therefore positive sentiment must be rooted in the hearts of all Indians to affect the attitude of politicians and lawmakers at both the federal and state levels. The capability of Israeli technology to improve the daily lives of hundreds of millions of civilians in fields such as drinking water, medical devices, irrigation, agriculture and more is the key to the reinforcement of the relations between the two countries and nations.
Bilateral relations are increasing in several areas. One can find new fields, like medical, water and sophisticated agriculture technologies, beside the traditional field of defense. In terms of size of companies, one can find many relatively young and small companies developing their relations and business content in India; in terms of depth of collaboration – the relations are evolving from “seller-buyer” relations to deeper phases of joint production and joint development by Indian and Israeli players. At the level of collaboration between the governments, one can find a joint effort to create “Start-up India,” based on the Israeli experience with adaptations to the local conditions.
India is anticipated to be the biggest and youngest economy in the world by 2025. With a median age of 28 years and population of over 1.3 billion people, India must create millions of jobs which will maintain the growth of economy and improve the life of hundreds of millions of people. This goal can be achieved only by adopting a non-conservative approach and innovative strategies. These can be provided by Israel and are sought by India. They can be “exported” from Israel by hundreds of small firms backed by governmental programs generated from the master plan approved by the government.
If the master plan is implemented wisely and effectively, one can certainly foresee the increase of the trade between the countries even beyond the goal of 25% within the next four years. Even more important, we shall see the development of commercial relations in new sectors and at deeper levels of collaboration, broadening and deepening the strong basis of friendship between the two nations. Taking into account the power of India and the favorable condition of Israel – this is a strategic goal that can be reached.The author is partner and head of the Indian Legal Practice at Amit, Pollak, Matalon & Co.