The Big Picture: India’s World – India-Israel ties: Major Strategic Turn
PM Narendra Modi recently visited Israel and met his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. Officially seven deals were signed which include deals on industrial R&D fund, development cooperation on agriculture, water conservation and setting up of GEO-LEO optic link. Ties between the two nations have flourished since 1992 due to common strategic interests and security threats and, it has been developing since then.
- In 2015, the Indian economy was the world’s seventh largestby nominal India has become one of the fastest growing major economies. Israel, at the same time, is considered as the most advanced country in SW Asia and the Middle East in economic and industrial development. It is a developed country having a highly skilled and educated workforce. So, developing relations between the two is important.
- Trade relations: Bilateral trade between India and Israel grew from $200 million in 1992 to $4.52 billion in 2014. It is targeted to US $20b in next 5 years. At the present meet, MOUs of US $5b were signed in India-Israel CEO forum.
- The two nations negotiated on an extensive bilateral free trade agreement, focusing on areas such as information technology, biotechnology, laser, optics and agriculture. Israeli technology can help India in increasing crop productivity in India. This shall help India in checking the issue of food security.
- Israel is considered a world leader in water conservation and water recycle technologies. It is willing to provide such technologies to India. It is also willing to help India in Clean Ganga project.
- Military and Strategic Ties: Israel is the second-largest source of defense equipment for India, after Russia. Arms trade between the two nations reached almost $600 million in 2016. India has purchased Barak I missiles, 3 phalcon AWACS, and Israeli spike anti tank missiles from Israel. Israel is developing Barak 8 missile for Indian Navy and IAF and plans to purchase 2 more phalcon AWACS are in progress.
- Space Collaboration: In 2002, India and Israel signed a cooperative agreement promoting space collaboration. India has successfully launched TecSAR and RISAT-2 radar imaging satellites of Israel from PSLV of ISRO.
- Terrorism: Both the countries also agreed to call for strong measures against terror groups and their sponsors. India has suffered first-hand violence and hatred spread by terror groups so as Israel.
Seeing the present threats on Indian borders along China and Pakistan, India needs to have a strong military, naval and air base. Israel has developed technologies to fight terror and counter-terrorism operations. So, military and strategic ties between the two nations are important. Also, India being a major developing economy, increasing its bilateral trade relations with highly advanced and developed Israeli economy is a welcome step.