Making the best out of a great relationship

| | in Oped
Making the best out of a great relationship

If India can separate its security threats from appeasement of religious forces, like Israel has done, it can definitely end the terror menace on its soil. The politics of minority appeasement must be pushed into the backyard, or finished for good

Nearly after 70 years of independence, an Indian Prime Minister had the time to visit an important ally — Israel. Despite one of the early nations to recognise independent Israel in 1950, Indian Governments for the next seven decades were for a clandestine relationship with the Jewish nation. This was due to the fear that the Israeli ‘suppression’ of Palestine would damage its Muslim vote bank. India also expected a backlash from Muslim majority nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq and others. With a sizeable Muslim population of its own, India did not want an open tie-up with Israel. Despite this hidden relationship, Israel supported India in the 1971 war against Pakistan, which led to the creation of Bangladesh out of East Pakistan.

It was only in 1992 that Narasimha Rao established an official diplomatic relationship with Israel. His pragmatic approach cemented Indo-Israeli ties. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government took a giant leap forward. He became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel recently. This visit has undoubtedly entered the book of diplomatic relationships. During his three-day visit, Modi secured many beneficial deals for India — from strengthening strategic relationship to procuring defence tools. It was a win-win situation for India. The agreements signed on the promotion of innovation, research, entrepreneurship, business, industry, agricultural growth, water management and anti-terror strategies, will help India definitely.

There will be a big collaboration between Israeli aerospace industries and Indian companies in the manufacture of defence and space equipment and the sharing of technologies. Make in India can take  to new heights in collaboration with Israeli companies having cutting edge technology.

From the late nineties, India has been a regular buyer of Israeli surveillance drones. The drones, Heron-I, Searcher and Harper, have helped the Indian security forces. India being surrounded by security threat in all corners, it is compulsory to learn from a leader. Israel being a ruthless destroyer of enemy forces and terror elements can help India to put an end to the

terror menace. After Prime Minister Modi’s historic visit, Indian defence forces can witness the entry of several Israeli-made technologically superior equipment. Already, $4.3 billion worth of defence deals have been signed between the two countries, and more could follow in the coming years.

If India can separate its security threats from appeasement of religious forces, it can definitely end the terror menace on its soil. The politics of minority appeasement must be pushed into the backyard — or even the graveyard — in dealing with national security issues. Playing politics over national security has cost India precious time in the past. If the same politics is allowed to continue, it will be fatal for the nation.

A joint forum with 30 CEOs from India and Israel was presided by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu during the visit. The forum urged the recommencement of Free Trade Agreement ((FTA), easier registration of business entities, longer-term multiple entry visas, more direct air connectivity, promotion of tourism and culture between two countries. It also promised to increase the bilateral trade from the current $4.5 billion to $20 billion in next five years. Easing of doing business in India for Israeli business groups and Indian business groups in Israeli can benefit both. When both sides thrash out the micro issues — and they should at the earliest — the peoples of India and Israel will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the breakthrough.   Agriculture can take profitable propositions in India with the Israeli support. They are the pioneers in converting deserts into fertile land. India can become an exporter of agricultural products, technological parts and security gadgets if Israeli support is taken seriously.

An innovation fund of $40 has been set up to increase the socio-economic progress of both nations. Israel being the home to the world’s second-largest start-ups, India will benefit largely from this agreement. When the world is witnessing major disruptions in every field, start-ups play an important role. India is desperately looking for out of box solutions to its perennial problems like agriculture, unemployment, urban chaos, rural development, security threats and other major issues. The grand collaboration between India and Israel will thus benefit India in a big way in the long run.

The Israelis have been grateful to India for liberating its prominent city of Haifa, which was under the control of Turks for 402 years. During the World War I, Mysore Lancers captured Haifa, which is proudly possessed by Israelis today. In this valorous act, 44 Indian soldiers laid down their lives. This one act of Indian sacrifice made the Israelis to help India in every field any time. Now it is up to India to leverage Israel’s partnership to its advantage.

(The writer is the Dean of Nehru Memorial College, Trichy)

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