Free Press Journal

India-Israel relations: Celebrating Bollywood and bilateral trade


Indian workers hang a billboard bearing the national flags of Israel and India in Ahmedabad on January 16, 2018. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and and Indian Prmie Minister Narendra Modi are due to visit Gujarat on January 17. / AFP PHOTO / SAM PANTHAKY

Celebrating 25 years of a symbiotic relationship, India and Israel are seeking new milestones of cooperation and progress in fields as diverse as bilateral trade and Bollywood.

To coincide with the ongoing visit of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, India and Israel have signed nine cooperation agreements in cyber security, film co-production, space and solar energy, besides oil and gas sectors. The Israeli Prime Minister, on a visit to Delhi, Gujarat, and Mumbai, (January 14-January 19, 2018) is accompanied by a 130-member business delegation and Moshe, an Israeli survivor of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.

Daniel Carmon- Israel’s ambassador to India

​“India is a vast country and Israel is a tiny country but together we are doing big things in science, technology, commerce, cyber, agriculture, energy, water, and also in security,” Netanyahu said on arrival into India.

Speaking with the media last week, Ambassador of Israel Daniel Carmon stated that Israel and India maintained an “all-weather friendship” and discussion on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement was under way.

“Since the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel last summer, there has been a substantial increase in commercial ties and business ventures between Indian and Israeli companies,” he said.

Israel, with the largest number of start-ups per capita worldwide, and India, a top innovation destination in Asia, have together set up an innovation incubator in Jerusalem. In a unique tie-up, OurCrowd, an Israeli equity crowdfunding platform, Indian multinationals Reliance Industries, Motorola Solutions, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have come together to support the growth of start-ups in Jerusalem and encourage business cooperation between Israeli and Indian start-ups, venture capitalists and tech companies.

Similarly, the ‘India-Israel Innovation Bridge’ is an online platform to facilitate bilateral collaboration between Israeli and Indian start-ups, tech hubs, corporations and other key innovation ecosystem players in various innovative projects related to water, agriculture, and digital health.

Strategic partnerships between India and Israel have been signed in the field of agriculture too. In the last one decade, the Indian government and MASHAV, Israel’s agency for International development cooperation have opened 20 centres across nine Indian states, wherein Israeli experts have trained thousands of Indian farmers in innovative agricultural methods, such as drip irrigation, which have helped to improve crop diversity and crop production across the country. In December 2017, the first agro-technology development centre, to focus on floriculture, was inaugurated in Tamil Nadu. Seven additional centres are expected to be opened soon, bringing the total number of centres in India to 27.

Israel, a world leader in water technology, after overcoming extreme water crisis since its founding, has also signed two major water agreements with India to increase cooperation in water conservation and state water utility reform. Under these agreements, Israeli technology will be used to clean and purify the Ganges River, a vital water resource for more than one billion Indian people. Although trade and cooperation pacts have blossomed since India and Israel established diplomatic ties in 1992, the relationship between these two countries goes deeper. Historically, Jews were one of the first foreign groups in recorded history to arrive and settle in India. Today, Jews are an integral part of Indian society and the Jewish community numbers close to 7,000 while Israel is home to 85,000 Jews of Indian origin.

This relationship is actually symbiotic as India offers a huge ready market for Israeli technology and innovations. Both countries are determined to push up the quality of life and India-Israel bilateral trade that today stands at less than USD 5 billion.