Ariel Sharon places a wreath for Mahatma Gandhi 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
As Israel and India celebrate 20 years of diplomatic relations, the relationship
between the two countries continues to develop and grow.
Israel has emerged as an important partner for India on many fronts. Science and
technology cooperation is a major growth area, and the India-Israel Initiative
for Industrial R&D focuses on nanotechnology, biotechnology, space, water
management and non-conventional energy sources.
India’s Space Research
Organization (ISRO) has launched Israeli satellites, and there are important
opportunities for Israeli companies in India’s growing water management
The Agriculture Work Plan program, launched in 2006, is also
expanding. It helps bring Israeli agricultural technologies to Indian farmers.
Subsequently, an Action Plan 2012-2015 was adopted to implement concrete
projects including setting up of centers of excellence in several Indian states.
The fourth meeting of India-Israel Forum, an annual event organized by Tel Aviv
and Confederation of Indian Industry, was held in Tel Aviv in August
Overall, India is currently Israel’s sixth-largest trading partner,
and nearly 40,000 Israeli tourists visited India in 2010.
bilateral relationship is dominated by defense cooperation, new sectors of
cooperation are also emerging.
Indo-Israel trade was approximately $4.8
billion in 2010, and Israeli companies and entrepreneurs benefit from India’s
huge market of 1.2 billion people, as well as the growing middle class of 300
million. The two countries are now negotiating a bilateral Free Trade
On the defense front, Israel’s timely help with defense
equipment during the Kargil war with Pakistan is appreciated in India, and
Israel has emerged as India’s second largest supplier of defense equipment. In
recent years India has bought sophisticated defense equipment from Israel
including the Phalcon AWACS, Barak missiles and anti-missile air defense systems
fighter & helicopter upgrades etc. India and Israel also have cooperated in
WITH THE world’s second largest Muslim population,
India has understandably been a traditional supporter of the Palestinian cause.
That is still India’s position, and Israel is well aware of India’s principled
stand on the Palestinian issue.
But India is a diverse country, and while
some sectors of Indian society feel our relations with Israel come at the
expense of traditional support for the Palestinians, the government has adopted
a balanced and pragmatic approach by continuing and deepening engagement with
Nor has that stance harmed our relations with the Gulf counties.
India-GCC trade in 2010-11 stood at $119 billion, and nearly 6 million Indian
nationals work in the Gulf and send home remittances worth $30 billion annually.
Nearly two-thirds of India’s energy imports are from the Gulf countries,
including Iran. India cannot afford to neglect these ties.
our disagreement over this issue has not prevented the multifaceted growth of
bilateral ties with Israel, and the strategic significance of good relations
with India has not been lost on Israel.
The same can be said for our
relations with Iran, our next-door neighborhood and an important trade partner.
India sources nearly 11 percent of its global energy imports from Iran, and we
are of the opinion that isolating Tehran will not help matters.
favors a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue through
dialogue, and our government has urged Iran to abide by its commitments under
the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. It voted against Iran at the IAEA on
several occasions in the past, and the Indian navy plays a constructive role in
combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
Defense diplomacy has emerged as an
important component of Indian diplomacy.
We are hopeful that by
maintaining good relations with Tehran, we will be able to play a constructive
role in the resolution of outstanding issues in the region.
Over the past
20 years, India has emerged as one of the world’s leading economies. Our economy
opened up in 1991. Since then India’s foreign policy has diversified. We became
a nuclear power in 1998 and upgraded relations with the United States with the
2005 Indo-US defense cooperation agreement and the 2006 Indo-US civil nuclear
cooperation deal. Other strategic partnerships have been signed with Japan,
South Korea, Russia and the European Union. India is now regarded as a strong
candidate for the permanent membership of the reformed UN Security
To mark the landmark occasion of 20 years of India-Israel
diplomatic relations, Foreign Minister SM Krishna’s visit to Israel today and
tomorrow will highlight the future direction of the relationship against the
backdrop of a changing global and regional scenario. The visit will impart the
requisite political content to a relationship which has been otherwise
flourishing in the past few years, and should serve to assure the Israelis of
the confirmed high importance given by India to its relations with
Israel.The writer is head of India’s Institute for Defense Studies and
Analyses, a non-partisan, autonomous body dedicated to objective research and
policy relevant studies on all aspects of defense and security.
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