“India’s relations with Israel have, of late, acquired a depth and diversity, which cannot be rolled back.” Discuss. (150 words)
India-Israel relations have undergone significant changes in the last few years, leading to the deepening of ties between the two nations. Below are the key points that illustrate the depth and diversity of the India-Israel relationship:
Diversity in relations:
- Defense: India is the largest arms buyer from Israel, and the bilateral defense ties have been a traditional area of cooperation between the two nations.
- Trade: Bilateral trade between the two countries has seen an impressive increase from $200 million to more than $4 billion (excluding defense) in 2016-17.
- Tourism: Air India has launched a direct flight from New Delhi to Tel Aviv, and an Israeli airline, Arkia, is planning to begin operations between Israel and India.
- Agriculture: Multiple Centers of Excellence have been set up in India to bring in advanced Israeli practices and technology, and the two countries are working on a Five Year Joint Work Plan for strategic cooperation in Agriculture and Water.
- Counterterrorism: India-Israel counterterrorism cooperation is quite robust and has been scaled up gradually over the last few years through a joint working group on terrorism.
New areas of cooperation:
- Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity cooperation is expanding, with cybersecurity academies being set up in India by an Israeli company, Vital Intelligence Group.
- Big data: Big data is being used to improve agriculture cooperation with Israel.
- Space: India’s Department of Science & Technology and National Technological Innovation Authority of Israel are setting up India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F) of 40 million dollars for the next five years.
Depth in relations:
- Mature partnership: Both nations are working hard to balance the current relationship with India’s historical support to the Palestinian cause. Relations between the two nations did not turn sour with India’s vote at the UN against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem or with the reported cancellation of the Spike anti-tank guided missile deal.
- Balancing regional geopolitics: India and Israel have been having regular exchanges on regional geopolitics in the wider Middle East, and they are working to understand each other’s concerns with every development.
In conclusion, the India-Israel relationship has undergone a significant shift in recent years, leading to greater depth and diversity in their engagement. Both nations have worked to balance their relationships with other countries while strengthening their own partnership.