Twenty-Five Years of India-Israel Relations: Achievements and prospects
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In what could be seen as curtain-raising to the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s upcoming three-day visit to Israel, the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India, organised a Round Table Discussion (RTD), themed at “Twenty-Five Years of India-Israel Relations: Achievements and Prospects”, on 29 Jun 2017. H.E. Daniel Carmon, Israel’s Ambassador to India, Amb. Amar Sinha, Secretary, ER (MEA), Dr. B. Bala Bhaskar, JS (WANA), Mr. Gopal Baglay, Official Spokesperson and Joint Secretary (XP), MEA, among other eminent policy experts deliberated. The deliberations were pointed at assessment of progress in bilateral relations over the past twenty-five years since formal diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1992, and drawing out a blueprint to take the bilateral relationship through the next twenty-five years. The External Publicity and Public Diplomacy Division, MEA, rolled out a seven-minute documentary, ‘SHALOM NAMASTE Ties of Friendship - India & Israel: 25 Years Growing Partnership’, on this occasion, featuring an all-rounded growth in bilateral ties between India and Israel over the past two and a half decades of cooperation in science and technology, agriculture, defence, cultural and academic exchanges, among others.

The RTD highlighted the stand-alone visit of Prime Minister Modi to Israel, also the first ever by any Indian Prime Minster to the Jewish nation, which takes off on 04 July 2017 as it befits twenty-five years of formal diplomatic relations between India and Israel. The visit also seeks to reiterate de-coupling of India’s Israel policy from the that of the larger Arab world, especially Palestine. It may be recalled that India, while maintaining a robust relationship all these years, had to keep the bilateral ties with the Jewish nation under wraps due to extraneous factors, including domestic considerations and concerns over ties with the Arab countries, which together form a large base of Indian expatriates and a regular source of energy supplies to India. However, under the changed geo-political circumstances when Arab countries themselves are re-tuning their policies towards Israel, India too needs to do that and take the bilateral ties out of the closet. In his opening remarks, General NC Vij, Director, VIF, mulled over the growing synergies between India and Israel across multiple domains, including combating terrorism, defence partnership, cooperation in dry-land farming etc. which are accelerated by personal equation between leaders of the two countries. He also stressed on unleashing new opportunities in bilateral trade which presently remains pegged at 4.6 billion USD, far below the desired benchmark. Speaking to the audience in his last public engagement before retirement, Amb Amar Sinha expressed satisfaction at the pace bilateral ties have progressed so far, while he assured an enthusiastic audience that ties are increasingly being re-defined from a buyer-seller relationship to co-production and joint research ventures. He also expressed his appreciation for Israel’s support to India at various international forums and assured the house that relationship between India and Israel remains firmly rooted in mutual trust and admiration for each other. Israel, he stressed, is viewed in high esteem among the masses in India.

H.E. Daniel Carmon, enthused by the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to Israel and the positive vibes it has generated in both countries, let the audience in on the anticipation and excitement with which Israel awaits to receive the Indian Prime Minister on his maiden visit to Israel. He also referred to a recent resolution adopted by the Government of Israel suggesting an all-encompassing bilateral cooperation between India and Israel spanning all the ministries. Both, the visiting ambassador from Israel as well as participants to the discussion, including officials representing the MEA, Government of India, stressed on expanding the scope of bilateral cooperation to include sharing of knowledge in water management, solar energy, space research, and cyber technologies, to give a few examples. Shri C D Sahay, former Chief R&AW, Lt Gen Ravi Sawhney, former DGMI, and Amb Dinkar Srivastava, India’s former Ambassador to Iran, were among other key participants who shed their views on India-Israel relations with their eyes on the future.

Event Date: 
June 29, 2017